Monthly Archives: July 2010

Keji has been named a night sky preserve

Well, I’m just a posting wizard this week. I have another post. It’s about Kejimkujik National Park.

Keji is about and hour and a half from us. In the Caledonia, Maitland Bridge area.
I camped there a couple of times as a kid. One of my favorite memories from those camping trips was going on the sky watch tours. It was spectacular. It is probably where my interest in stars and the night sky started. Our campground has a pretty good sky view up by the playground, but I can honestly say it doesn’t come close to Keji.
Anyway, this week The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has designated part of the park as a night sky preserve. What that means is that the park has to be kept free of artificial light so that astronomy can be promoted.
Here is the cbc.ca article about the new designation.

Kejimkujik National Park in southwestern Nova Scotia is now officially a dark sky preserve where people will be able to observe the heavens without the nuisance of light pollution.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada recently approved the park’s application — the first such designation in Nova Scotia.

David Chapman, with the Halifax chapter of the astronomical society, said the park didn’t have to do much to win the designation.

“In fact, the lighting situation in Keji was very close to ideal when we first visited the park just about a year ago. They just had to basically define a zone in the park that would be kept free of light,” he said.

“They’ve had to make some small adjustments to some of the lights around the park, but the camping experience is practically identical to the way it’s been all along.”

Traditional light fixtures will be replaced by ones that curb glare in that zone of the park.

According to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a dark sky preserve is a site with “very dark skies and virtually no sky glow on the horizon.” There are at least 10 such designated sites in Canada, including two in New Brunswick.

Chapman said dark sky preserves must also be places where people are welcome to come and observe the night sky.

The designation won’t affect what people can do in the park, he said. Rather, it will enhance their nature experience while camping and canoeing.

“It’s important for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a way that we can educate people about the night sky and also the importance of proper lighting,” he said.

People want to ‘experience the sky’

“It’s also important because people do want to experience the sky, and they know that they need to get out of the city. This is going to be a welcoming place.”

This summer there will be public astronomy programming, light-pollution controls and an interpretation program that will explore the significance of the night sky in Mi’kmaq culture and history.

Chapman said observing the stars and the Milky Way against the inky blackness of the sky at Keji is an “indescribable, wonderful ” experience.

“We have now a place that is guaranteed in the future. Regardless of what happens in the cities, there is a place that you can go to see that,” he said.

The park will be the site of a party in early August to celebrate the designation.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/07/07/ns-dark-sky-preserve-kejimkujik.html#ixzz0t27KdQHg

Fireflies

I was just talking about fireflies and thought it would make a great blog post. What are they? What do they look like? What makes them glow? I don’t know, so I thought I’d look it up.

I know the campground has TONS of them. If you look up towards the playground, or around the bowling lane at night you can see them dancing and playing around.
This is what the little fellas look like. (The picture is from sciencecheerleader.com) Now that I see them in the light, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them around.
They are extremely harmless. Well to humans anyway. They don’t bite, they don’t pinch, they aren’t poisonous. When they are attacked they do release a “blood” type stuff that doesn’t taste very good to their predators.
The fireflies that are flying around blinking are the males. The females blink from a perch, either the ground or a shrub. If the female like the strength and length of the male’s blink, she will blink back to let the male know where she is.
There are three different species of firelies, and they each have there own way of flashing. They are different in color, length, the number of blinks and the time of night when they come out to play.
In their belly’s there are special cells. These cells combine oxygen and three chemicals to produce the light. Luciferin, ATP and Luciferase.
The chemicals Luciferin and Luciferase are used in medical research to treat cancer, multiple scleroses and heart disease.
And now you know what I know about fireflies.