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| August 2019 |

Montana Learning Center to Host Dark Sky Conference

Beginning on Sept. 27, the Montana Learning Center in partnership with the Montana Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association will offer an opportunity to view the brilliance of the cosmos during the 2019 Montana Dark Sky Conference & Star Party.

“Astronomy is one of the many sciences that anyone can be a part of,” Hannahoe said. “You can go outside, look up and be overwhelmed with the vastness of Montana’s starry skies.”

The conference and star party, which concludes on Sunday, Sept. 29, will be held at the Montana Learning Center campus, 7653 Canyon Ferry Road, which is located just outside of Helena. Registration is $25 for adults and $10 for students. Children will be required to be accompanied by an adult.

Registration can be made online at: https://forms.gle/qPzUJZrDYVKMLFdW9 including options for lodging and meals.

Registration payment can also be mailed to the Montana Learning Center, 7653 Canyon Ferry Road, Helena, MT 59602.

There will be private night-sky viewing for conference attendees only on Friday from 9 p.m. to midnight. On Saturday the conference includes sessions on the dark sky movement, an introduction to light pollution in the night sky, dark sky economics and the Master Astronomer Program. Opportunities for networking and discussion fill the conference agenda until darkness again veils the landscape on Saturday when there will be a second star party that is free and open to the public.

“We are excited to partner with the Montana Learning Center and bring together people from across the state who are working for better, safer, dark-sky friendly outdoor lighting. This will be a great opportunity for learning how to protect Montana’s heritage of star-filled skies,” said John Ashley, chair of the Montana Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association.

The U. S. Department of Energy in 2011 found more than one-third of night lighting is wasted at a cost of $3.3 billion, contributing about 15 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to information provided by the International Dark Sky Association website, https://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/energy-waste/.

The Montana Learning Center, a NASA partner, offers summer camps for children and teacher training that provides science content and teaching strategies to enhance and expand personal growth. More information on the Montana Learning Center can be found on its website at http://montanalearning.org/. The center’s 14-inch robotic telescope and its 25-inch telescope, Montana’s largest public-use telescope, are available for reservation for private star parties.

“This ties directly into our astronomy program,” said Hannahoe, the Montana Learning Center’s executive director. “As such, it is really important to not only protect our direct view of the night sky in and around the Helena area but also play a part preserving it in Montana and beyond.”

“As outdoor lighting continues to grow unabated, it directly threatens our view of the night sky.” Hannahoe added.

While night sky has been a canvas where star stories were written by generations of our ancestors, astronomer Carl Sagan spoke of what we share with stars in his book “Cosmos” where he wrote, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

For additional information, contact:
Ryan Hannahoe
Montana Learning Center
(406) 475-3638

John Ashley
Montana Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association
(406) 871-3798

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