Shining a light on Michigan Dark Skies

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    Nestled within the serene landscapes of Lowell, Michigan, the GRAAA's Veen Observatory serves as a beacon for astronomy enthusiasts of all ages. Courtesy photo.

    Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 16, 2024, where astronomy takes center stage at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Meijer Theater.

    The the GRPM and the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association have joined forces to shed light on the vital issue of preserving our state’s dark skies with a presentation by University of Michigan professor Sally Oey.

    Dr. Sally Oey, courtesy photo.

    As the founder and chairperson of Michigan Dark Skies, Oey is at the forefront of the battle to preserve our celestial heritage. Drawing upon her expertise and passion, she will illuminate audiences with the urgent need to combat light pollution and safeguard our natural resources.

    Michigan boasts some of the last remaining bastions of pristine dark skies east of the Mississippi River, with the vast majority located in the rugged beauty of the Upper Peninsula. Yet, these celestial sanctuaries are under threat from the encroaching glow of urbanization. Professor Oey’s insights will highlight the environmental, health, and safety implications of light pollution, urging action to protect these invaluable assets.

    Despite the challenges, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. Recent achievements, such as the designation of portions of the Keweenaw Peninsula and Beaver Island as Dark Sky Parks and Preserves, represent significant victories in the fight against light pollution. These accolades not only celebrate Michigan’s natural beauty but also inspire communities worldwide to embrace the darkness.

    “We can still preserve more,” said Oey, “But we have got to act fast. A natural, star-studded sky is only accessible to a fraction of the world’s people, and that ignorance is causing an accelerating degradation of this precious resource.”

    The presentation will commence at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Kent County residents, GRPM, and GRAAA members can enjoy complimentary parking in the Museum’s parking ramp. Secure your spot beneath the stars by registering at tickets.grpm.org. For more information on GRAAA’s mission and activities, visit graaa.org.

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