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Celebration of Northland's night skies begins Sunday

Three bright stars Vega (top), Deneb (left) and Altair (below right) outline the Summer Triangle as it rises in the eastern sky in May 2016. The Milky Way is split down the middle by a dark band called the Great Rift, a region so rich in interstellar dust that it blocks the light from millions of stars in the background. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com

Organizers of a weeklong celebration of the night sky are hoping people look to the stars next week.

Star parties, sidewalk astronomy, films and a daylong seminar are among the events scheduled for Celebrate the Night Skies Week, beginning Sunday and hosted by Starry Skies Lake Superior, the local chapter of the International Dark Sky Association.

Randy Larson, one of the week's organizers, said the week is "really raising awareness about taking the eyes away from the tablet and looking up." Duluth is at the edge of a dark night sky due to Lake Superior and public land in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, which provides "a great sky viewing," he said. He added, "Eighty percent of the kids have never seen a Milky Way and Duluth is a great venue and the shore around the lake is a great venue to be able to see that. We're inviting the region to embrace that and bring back the stars."

The week kicks off with the family-friendly film "The Skyglow Project," which explores North America's night skies and the impact of light pollution. The film begins at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Clyde Iron Works. Filmmakers Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan will be in attendance to answer questions about the film. Tickets can be purchased starryskiesls.org.

The night sky will be the focus of a seminar scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Clyde Iron Works. Panelists will discuss the effects and consequences of increasing human-made light, as well as strategies and technologies to curb light pollution. The seminar is open to anyone and registration is required at starryskiesls.org.

Other events during the week include star parties, sidewalk astronomy, evening landscape painting, a screening of the film "The City Dark" and a reading by "The End of Night" author Paul Bogard. Programs on light pollution and the night sky are also scheduled during the week at the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

For more information and a full schedule, visit starryskiesls.org.

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