Explore the skies by the light of the Milky Way at the Dark Sky Festival & Star Party at Bok Tower Gardens on Saturday, January 25. The festival is included in general admission and is free to members. Speakers begin at 4 P.M., and the gate closes at 9:30 P.M.
Highlights of the festival include learning about the night sky with leading astronomers, nocturnal animal encounters, costumed characters, Orlando Science Center discovery stations, and a special astronomy-inspired carillon concert.
This year’s stellar line-up of scientists will discuss a variety of topics, including space exploration and the mysteries of the universe. Local astronomers will have telescopes on display for stargazing, and Star Wars-inspired characters from the 501 Legion will also be joining the out-of-this-world fun!
Schedule of Events
James Webb, Astronomy Concert – 4 P.M.
Francine Prager, Bats of the World – 5 P.M.
Russell Romanella, Human & Robotic Exploration of Space – 5:30 P.M.
Mark Marquette, Exploring the Moon in Your Backyard – 6:30 P.M.
Derek Demeter, Solving the Mysteries of the Universe – 7 P.M.
James Webb, From Factory to the Edges of the Visible Universe – 8 P.M.
Mark Marquette, Starry Nite Live! – 8:30 P.M.
Orlando Science Center Digital Planet: 6 P.M., 7 P.M. & 8 P.M.
Evening Carillon Concert with Geert D’hollander: 8 P.M.
Continuous Evening Exhibits
Astronomer and telescopes in the Astronomy Meadow: 6-9:30 P.M.
Orlando Science Center Hands On Science: 6-9 P.M.
Owl Encounter: 6-9 P.M.
Bat Encounter: 6:30– 8:30 P.M.
501st Legion Characters – 6-9 P.M.
About Light Pollution and the Effects of Skyglow
According to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), more than 80% of the world's population experiences light-polluted skies, and 99% of Americans are experiencing the harmful effects. Darkness not only adds to the aesthetic qualities of the wildness, but it also is essential to the health of wildlife and humans.
Central Florida is listed as one of the world’s hot spots for artificial light pollution. In anticipation of the festival, an IDA representative measured the level of artificial light above Bok Tower Gardens. The Gardens are only three points higher than the darkest spot on the globe, and the Milky Way was visible to the naked eye.
Throughout history, humans have evolved to the rhythm of sunlit days and nights known as circadian rhythm or more commonly known as a “biological clock.” However, with the spread of artificial lighting, most humans no longer experience darkness. Research published by Harvard University suggests that artificial light (especially blue LED lighting) at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer, and more.
From a health perspective, exposure to light pollution has been found to reduce the production of the hormone Melatonin, which induces sleep, boosts the immune system, lowers cholesterol, and helps the functioning of the thyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes and adrenal glands. The dark-sky movement aims to educate about the importance of suppressing light pollution and celebrating the wonder of our solar system and beyond.