Southern Utah’s 2017 Amazing Earthfest Theme: Preserving Dark Skies over the Colorado Plateau!

May 11, 2017                                                                                                      PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Rich Csenge, Festival Director

jiw@gwi.net   435-644-3735

www.AmazingEarthfest.org

We did our first night photography workshop of 2017 this morning. No better place to do it than one of my favorite arches near Kanab! Are you interested in learning night photography? Just visit our website to sign-up for a tour.

Southern Utah’s 2017 Amazing Earthfest Theme: Preserving Dark Skies over the Colorado Plateau!

Enjoy the wonder of the stars and find out more about how to protect that experience with dark sky friendly outdoor lighting by attending night sky events at the upcoming 11th annual Amazing Earthfest in Kanab, Utah.

Quoting from a volume titled, Fighting Light Pollution: Smart Lighting Solutions for Individuals and Communities, published by the International Dark Sky Association, “Darkness can evoke fear of the unknown, yet it is also a time for imagination and repose…..The night has shaped the patterns of our lives as much as the vibrant world of daylight.” Good lighting is important for safety, security and recreation however excess light and glare, known as light pollution, is growing at a rate of 6% a year. Southern Utah’s Amazing Earthfest is stepping up to tell this story!

Naturally dark areas of the U. S. that offer a pristine night sky such as Kane County in southern Utah, are quickly becoming loci for astro-tourism, an emerging segment of international travel and leisure. According to a 2014 Missouri State University study, travelers hoping to “see the stars” in the American West, are expected to collectively deliver some $1.7 billion over ten years to the local economies of small, rural communities around the Colorado Plateau.

Photographer David Swindler suggests that interest in photographing night skies has escalated with recent improvements in low light sensitivity of digital cameras. However, the ever increasing spread of light pollution is making dark sky sanctuaries harder to find. Southern Utah has some of the darkest skies anywhere in the lower 48 states. Photographers, amateur astronomers and visitors are increasingly drawn to experience the dark night sky above Grand Staircase and Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments and Zion, Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

A total of seven events of the 11th Amazing Earthfest are focused on astronomy. In Photographing the Night Sky, you can learn the best techniques for photographing the stars at a free workshop with professional photographer David Swindler beginning at 4:15 PM on Sunday afternoon, May 14 at Crescent Moon Theater. Learn why it’s so vital that we preserve dark skies in Southern Utah. David will share numerous methods used in night photography and explain how you can capture stunning images of the Milky Way.

On Monday, May 15, join Bettymaya Foot, Director of the Colorado Dark Sky Cooperative for an enlightening multimedia presentation on why dark skies matter and how you can help preserve the awesome nighttime experience of wonder over your home town. Save the Stars Above explores human health and ecological consequences of light pollution and glare, the economic benefits and growth of astro-tourism, public safety and civic engagement to create sensible outdoor lighting ordinances that beautify your community. Right afterwards, a star and storytelling gathering around a campfire will be hosted by Von Del Chamberlain, former director of Salt Lake City’s Hansen Planetarium, at his home!

On Wednesday, May 17, enjoy 15% off the entire menu of finely crafted cuisine expertly prepared by Shef Shon Foster, owner of Sego Restaurant, while attending Dark Skies; Bright Eyes, with Astronomy Interpreter Randy Dunning.

On Thursday, May 18, at Sidewalk Astronomy, enjoy conversation, star stories and a telescopic view of sky objects visible from downtown Kanab. Learn the basics of dark sky friendly street lighting and what can be done to enhance the visibility of stars over your city.

Two astronomy events are set for Friday evening, May 19.  At The Meaning of Light, at the Best Friends in-town Visitor Center, join Randy Dunning for a multimedia presentation on the physical properties of light and stars. After the program, gather with Randy near the Cottonwood Canyon trailhead in Kanab for Tour the Galaxy to gaze at wispy nebula, star clusters, galaxies, and Jupiter through an astronomical quality telescope.

Daytime astronomy is awe-inspiring too when you have the right equipment! At Solar Astronomy, also on Friday, May 19, in Kanab, Astro-Rangers from Bryce Canyon National Park provide two sky watching events; in the morning for students, and afternoon for the general public. Safely look at the sun through a solar telescope to observe solar flares, the sudden release of electromagnetic energy from the solar atmosphere; sunspots, dark areas on the surface of the sun arising from strong magnetic fields; and discover why the sky is blue.

Through the Kanab City Beautification Board, Amazing Earthfest Founding Director Rich Csenge and a working group of local residents have crafted a comprehensive, dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting ordinance for the City of Kanab which they hope to present for review and recommendation to the Kanab Planning Commission in June. A public informational forum on outdoor lighting will be included in the meeting. As growth in the city accelerates, many residents as well as civic leaders desire to ensure that Kanab’s exceptional dark sky resource is preserved for the enjoyment of present and future generations by limiting the excess, undesirable glare, intensity, “sky glow” and light clutter from unshielded and overpowered outdoor light fixtures. Accomplishing this by means of a good, night sky-friendly city ordinance would certainly position Kanab, Utah, to capture its share of the expanding trends in worldwide astro-tourism.

A complete schedule of events for the 11th Amazing Earthfest 2017 is at www.AmazingEarthfest.org/events, and printed copies are available free at stores and visitor centers around southern Utah and at the festival information table located at the Kane County Office of Tourism, 78 S. 100 East in Kanab!

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