November 10, 2023: Fostering the Keweenaw Dark Skies Seminar Recap

We held our annual light management workshop for the 3rd year in a row. This time we incorporated the workshop into a seminar with Visit Keweenaw as part of their Sustainable Tourism Seminar Series. This seminar, held November 10th in a lunch-n-learn format, was the kickoff session for seminar series.

In 2022 and 2021 the light management workshops that we held were at the Lodge. This year, with the partnership with Visit Keweenaw, the event was held in Hancock at the Keweenaw Community Foundation office (236 Quincy St). There were 13 attendees, including the guests, speakers, and organizers.

By being incorporated in the Sustainable Tourism series we expanded the topic of the seminar. In addition to including info about becoming a designated dark sky park (Keweenaw Dark Sky Park) and light management, we had a worldly-focused guest that talked about light pollution and how that affects stargazing, our everyday health, and the health of wildlife and ecology.

Brad Barnett kicked off the seminar by showing a video about the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park and then introducing John Barentine and John Mueller (me). John Barentine joined virtually via Zoom from Tucson, Arizona, where Dark Sky International (fka, International Dark Association) is located. [ Dark Sky International is the governing body of the international dark sky park program and designation. ]

John Barentine is the founder of Dark Sky Consulting, LLC. He is an Arizona native and comes from the “dark side” of science — professional astronomy. He grew up in Phoenix and was involved in amateur astronomy there from grade school. He obtained a master’s degree in physics at Colorado State University and a master’s and Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout his career, he has been involved in education and outreach efforts to help increase the public understanding of science.

His presentation focused on conserving the wilderness of the night sky. He provided data to showing that light pollution has increased throughout the world, and how special the Keweenaw is in terms of low light pollution. He discussed several examples of how other areas are addressing light pollution, and what the science is behind better lighting. More specifically his talk was organized around:

  • Why the wilderness of the night sky is important
  • What is light pollution
  • What are the effects of light pollution
  • What is the solution

Interesting points he made:

  • Studies show that street lights do not offer more benefit in visibility to the driver when traveling less than 35 mph. The vehicle’s headlights is sufficient.

Below is a link to the slide deck he used during his presentation.

[ Download John Barentine’s Presentation Slide Deck ]

The Keweenaw is home to some of the darkest skies in the Midwest. This provides visitors and residents access to incredible stargazing opportunities and even the chance to experience the Northern Lights. During the seminar  a discussion on ways to foster the Keweenaw’s dark skies and the science behind light pollution prevention. We touched on actions we have been taking to establish the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park in Copper Harbor and why fostering dark skies are important to the region.  

John Mueller from the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge & Keweenaw Dark Sky Park filled in gaps from John Barentine’s talk and connected John B’s talk with the Keweenaw by providing examples of what the Lodge has been doing the past 2-3 years in terms of minimizing light pollution.

The connection between John B. and John M. is that John B. was the initial Program Manager for the Lodge when the Lodge was going through the International Dark Sky Places nomination. At the time, John B.  was the Director of Public Policy and Director of Conservation for the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in Tucson, Arizona.

[ Download John Mueller’s Presentation Slide Deck ]

Below are pictures from the event.


Last modified on December 22nd, 2023 at 5:10 pm