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KENAI:Refuge Explores the Dark with Star Party
Alaska Region, March 8, 2013
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The Comet Throw, where velcro balls are launched into three orbits around the sun, was a popular activity with young visitors to the Kenai Refuge Family Star Party.
The Comet Throw, where velcro balls are launched into three orbits around the sun, was a popular activity with young visitors to the Kenai Refuge Family Star Party. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Kenai NWR
A green line shows the border of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Alaska layered over a NASA satellite image of light pollution as seen from space. The Refuge protects the natural world from light pollution, making a great habitat for wildlife like little brown bats.
A green line shows the border of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Alaska layered over a NASA satellite image of light pollution as seen from space. The Refuge protects the natural world from light pollution, making a great habitat for wildlife like little brown bats. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Kenai NWR
Education Specialist Michelle Ostrowski listens like a bat as a young visitor's whispers at the Echolocation Station during the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's Family Star Party on March 1st.
Education Specialist Michelle Ostrowski listens like a bat as a young visitor's whispers at the Echolocation Station during the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's Family Star Party on March 1st. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Kenai NWR

Alaska's winters are long and dark. Instead of lamenting the cold, the Kenai Refuge celebrated this opportunity to view planets, stars and passing satellites through the dark months. Despite a snowy evening that brought the telescopes indoors, the Refuge hosted a Family Star Party at the Refuge Visitor Center in Soldotna, Alaska on March 1st, 2013.

 

Thirty (30) participants explored many night time topics with Visitor Services Ranger Leah Eskelin and Environmental Education Specialist Michelle Ostrowski, including how dark skies help Alaskan wildlife hunt, hide and survive.

Activities included an echolocation station where we listened like little brown bats, bouncing our voices off a suspended dish and a cosmic comet throw where young visitors could launch comet balls into three orbits around the sun. Other topics included what light pollution is and how it threatens natural processes. Using NASA satellite imagery, Refuge scientists created a map to show how the Refuge and other federal lands protect the night from light pollution. Visiting astronomer Andreas Veh from Kenai Peninsula College also presented a very well-attended session on how to use star charts to enjoy stargazing.


Contact Info: Leah Eskelin, 907-262-7021, Leah_Eskelin@fws.gov



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