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International Dark Sky Symposium at Mont Megantic Report

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Written by Robert Dick, Ottawa on
Post Date: 
Sun, 2007/09/23

The International Dark Sky Association Symposium at the ASTROLab at Mont-Mégantic Provincial Park was held from September 19-21 at Mont Mégantic Observatory. In addition to speakers from the RASC, speakers from the International Darksky Association (IDA), Parks Canada, lighting companies, engineers and light pollution researchers from North American and Europe presented a wide range of talks on the subject.

The focus of the meeting was the designation of the area around the Observatory as an International Dark Sky Preserve by the International Darksky Association of Tucson, Arizona.

During the ceremony, the RASC presented the 2007 Light Pollution Abatement Award to the Observatory, Officials of the MMO Park, the AstroLab Education Centre at the Observatory, the City of Sherbrooke and the Regional Municipality for the area around the mountain. This encloses and area of about 5,500 km2. The RASC Award was for the extensive work of negotiating with governments in the region to reduce their contributions to sky glow near the observatory.

Yvan Dutil of the RASC LPA Committee was instrumental in developing the action plan for the program. Under the leadership of Chloe Legris of the AstroLab du Mont-Megantic, the team at the Observatory has worked for four years to achieve this success.

Although the RASC has recognized the MMO as a Dark Sky Preserve for over a year, this is the first international recognition for a DSP in Canada.

There was very good media coverage. Observatory, Astrolab, politicians and the RASC were kept busy fielding questions from the media (TV, radio and print). Even an American film crew were there to interview, over several hours, representatives of Parks Canada and the RASC for a new documentary film on light pollution.

Skies were clear for the conference. After a tour of the main 1.6 m telescope, we enjoyed stargazing under the broad sky from the top of the mountain and through the 24" telescope in the public observatory.

 

Night sky from Mont Megantic looking south (R. Dick)

 

 

Mont Megantic Observatory at night (R. Dick)