You've heard about Winter Haven's newest residential development - Harmony on Eloise - that will focus on sustainable living, zero-to-little net water use, and people, animals and nature living in harmony. One of the highlights of the neighborhood will be "dark lighting" which focuses on street lights only emitting enough light for safety without affecting a person's health.
Well, they have partnered with Chamber member Bok Tower Gardens to present the HARMONY Dark Sky Festival & Star Party on Saturday, February 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Admission is $5 per person, children under 12 and members are free). Highlights of the festival include learning about the night sky with leading astronomers, nocturnal animal encounters, night hikes, and a special astronomy-inspired carillon concert.
According the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), more than 80% of the world’s population lives under light polluted skies and 99% of Americans are experiencing the harmful effects of artificial “skyglow.” Darkness not only adds to the aesthetic qualities of the wildness but it also is important to the health of wildlife and humans.
Central Florida is listed as one of the world’s hot spots for artificial light pollution and the HARMONY Dark Sky Festival & Star Party aims to educate visitors about the natural importance of darkness and how controlling light pollution is vital for all of Earth’s inhabitants. In anticipation of the festival, the level of artificial light above Bok Tower Gardens was measured by an IDA representative and was found to be only three points higher than the darkest point on the globe and the Milky Way was visible to the naked eye.
Acclaimed author and researcher Paul Bogard will present two talks that evening about the importance of dark skies and will share excerpts from his bestselling book The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. He will also be available after his presentations for a book signing.
The event is proudly sponsored in part by Harmony Institute and Harmony on Lake Eloise.
About Light Pollution and the Effects of Skyglow:
Throughout history, humans have evolved to the rhythm of sunlit days and dark 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 truly dark nights. 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 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.
About Special Guest Speaker Paul Bogard:
As one of the leading voices in the field of dark-sky research, Paul is also editor of the anthology Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark, a collection of essays by twenty-eight wonderful writers on the value of darkness and the costs of light pollution. His writing has appeared in print and online in Slate, Salon, Los Angeles Times, Outside, Audubon, Conservation, Reader's Digest, National Geographic, Creative Nonfiction, and more.
A native Minnesotan, Paul grew up watching the stars and moon from a lake in the northern part of the state. He has lived and taught in New Mexico, Nevada, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, and is now assistant professor of English at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he teaches creative nonfiction and environmental literature.