Some of you may be aware that the Charlestown Town Council just this past month unanimously voted a town lighting ordinance. As Frosty Drew Observatory has designated itself as having the darkest skies on much of the Eastern Seaboard, this was a great occasion. The Town Council had been arguing this for over a year, and to finally have it happen was a tremendous relief to all of us associated with Frosty Drew.
The Observatory seemed a natural complement to the Frosty Drew Nature Center, named in honor of Edwin, “Frosty” Drew, who was one of those responsible for preventing the beautiful Ninigret Park from becoming the site of a nuclear power plant. Six years after the dedication of the Nature Center, the first building to be opened in the Park, astronomy lovers, led by URI Professor William Penhallow, dedicated the Frosty Drew Observatory. It was a beautiful spot to set a telescope, and the skies were perfect.
Unfortunately, although the skies are still reminiscent of the inside of a planetarium when the Moon is not in the sky, local cities and towns have begun to increase the amount of light, and it is starting to infringe upon the night. However, by the Town’s acceptance of a lighting ordinance, this gives us the ability to attempt to introduce other communities to the importance of keeping the night sky dark, if only as a money-saving tool. To do so, the Charlestown Planning Commission has gifted to us a copy of the very popular movie The City Dark. As it has been shown at a previous meeting, many of you are aware of what this movie can offer. My request to you is that if any members are aware of or know anyone within their city/town governments or other organizations, we would love to show it to as many groups as possible.
Frosty Drew Observatory is committed to astronomy programming within the darkest conditions possible in Rhode Island. Please help us to do so, for, as Charlestown’s sky remains dark, perhaps your neighborhood could likewise.
Northeastern United States on January 29, 2012 taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA