‘Dark Skies’ Symposium to Explore Humanity’s Connection to the Night Sky

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This week’s symposium will bring writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, scholars, and scientists to , April 4–6, to explore the human connection to the dark night sky.

Symposium sessions will feature many artistic and creative works influenced by the night sky including poems, novels, artworks, and songs. Others will focus on the physical nature of excessive artificial lighting at night and how it impacts human health and other species such as birds and insects. All of the events are free and open to the Hamilton community with the exception of the banquet on Saturday night, which is for registered participants of the symposium.

“To our knowledge, this will be a first-of-its-kind symposium bringing together a broad range of people with similar interests in the night sky,” says Jeff Bary, Sweet Family Chair and associate professor of physics and astronomy. “As such, we hope to raise awareness in the scholarly community of the cultural significance of a dark night sky, while tying this awareness to the work of advocates working in the Appalachian region, but also across the country and internationally. The symposium will bring these like-minded individuals from vastly different academic and scholarly worlds together, building a community of scholars and advocates whose work may be shared broadly in support of dark sky preservation.” 

The symposium will begin on the evening of Thursday, April 4, with an opening reception at 6 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. Ryan Family Film Series screening of King Coal and Q&A with filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon in Golden Auditorium in Little Hall. 

Friday’s events will include several sessions, including “Sense of Place and Preserving Dark Sky Places” and “The Night Sky in Indigenous Culture,” the keynote event with author Ann Pancake, concluding with a Dark Sky Star Party beginning at 7:30 p.m., featuring Perry Ground, Haudenosaunee storyteller and cultural educator. 

On Saturday, the final day of the symposium will feature additional sessions, including “Composition and the Night Sky,” dinner with Lost Creek Farms, and will conclude with a concert and community square dance at the Palace Theater. 

A full schedule of sessions, exhibits, speakers, and other events is available at the .

The symposium is sponsored by groups across campus, including:

  • Arts Council 
  • Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute
  • Sweet Family Endowed Chair
  • Live Music Collective
  • Faculty Development Council
  • Upstate Institute
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Environmental Studies Program
  • Core Communities
  • Beyond