Dark Skies with Elisa Prather and Angelo Parisi

November meeting will feature Lake County’s Dark Skies and efforts to preserve them

The November chapter meeting will be a special one!  Elisa Prather and Angelo Parisi from the Lake County Office of Education are pairing up to provide a talk at the Taylor Observatory and Norton Planetarium starting at 7 p.m. The facility is located at 5725 Oak Hills Lane in Kelseyville, (Driving directions are provided at the end of this article.)

In the Observatory’s classroom, Elisa Prather will share information about Lake County’s Dark Sky Initiative and how it can bring astro-tourism to Lake County.  Part of the talk will include a focus on the environmental impacts of light pollution on nocturnal migrations of birds.

After Elisa’s talk, attendees will move to the Planetarium, where Angelo Parisi will share his wealth of astronomical knowledge to point out major objects in the night sky and to answer questions. Weather permitting, Angelo will delight visitors with a look through his 14″ Dobsonian telescope. Dress warmly as much of the evening will be outside.

Prather is the Science and Math Education Specialist for the Lake County Office of Education. She previously taught science classes at both middle school and high school levels in Lakeport. In 2016 she was honored as the Lake County Teacher of the Year. She has been a member of the Redbud Board of Directors for four years and chairs the chapter’s Education Committee.

Angelo Parisi is a retiree from the US Postal Service and currently the Taylor Field Trip Coordinator for Lake County Office of Education. In this capacity he coordinates field trips and provides engaging learning activities for students from Kindergarten to adult. Angelo has been a favorite guest at the Windows on the Universe public events that are hosted by the Friends of Taylor Observatory. At these events he weaves his knowledge about the universe with his skill as a musician to entertain as well as educate his audiences.  Angelo is an amateur astronomer and founding member of the Robert Ferguson Observatory located in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. During his work there, he formed the Big Bang Band Traveling Star Show.

Friends of Taylor Observatory, with collaboration from many community stakeholders, is seeking Dark Sky Certification from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). The group has been successful in its first effort towards this certification by convincing the Lake County Board of Supervisors to pass a proclamation in November 2018 to show support for this effort. Redbud Audubon was among the community groups that supported this first step.

A Certified IDA International Dark Sky Community is a town, city, municipality or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education and citizen support of dark skies.

The dark-sky movement is a campaign to reduce light pollution. The dark-sky movement encourages the use of full-cutoff lighting fixtures that cast little or no light upward in public areas and encourages communities to adopt lighting regulations. Among the impacts of light pollution is that it has been found to affect human circadian rhythms.

There are two principal goals of the Dark Sky Initiative in Lake County. The first is to foster an astronomy tourism industry for Lake County. The San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Santa Rosa regions have limited star visibility because of extensive lighting. The second goal is to preserve Lake County dark skies for future generations of students.

Please plan to attend this interesting and informative meeting. The public is welcome.

Driving directions to Observatory: From Highway 29, (as if you are coming from Lower Lake) take the first Kelseyville Main Street.  After passing Kelseyville High School, turn right onto Konocti Road for about 1.2 miles.  Take a right on Oak Hills Lane which turns into a dirt road and the Observatory 5725 Oak Hills Lane, will be through an entrance on the left. Obviously, if you are coming from Lakeport, the directions will be opposite.