As snow was falling Tuesday night, the stars were shining inside Hamline University’s Sundin Music Hall. Nearly 400 guests came out to attend the Twin Cities premiere screenings of “Northern Nights, Starry Skies,” a documentary produced by PBS North and Hamline’s Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE).
The documentary, described as a celebration of Minnesota’s night sky, explores the way stars have been interpreted by different cultures through time and examines how humans are impacting our ability to connect with the cosmos.
“Our northern wilderness areas – the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park, and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park – together form the world’s largest designated Dark Sky sanctuary, and the film and associated educational resources really bring to life those pristine night skies,” said Executive Producer and CGEE Director Tracy Fredin.
The documentary features dazzling night-sky photography from co-producer Travis Novitsky, who also provides a narrative thread that connects the documentary’s multiple stories. These include a focus on the detrimental impacts of light pollution on human health and the environment. Solutions to those problems being enacted in Duluth are introduced by Starry Skies North co-founders Cynthia Lapp and Randy Larson and bird expert Laura Miller.
The documentary is part of a greater K-12 education initiative that examines the natural health and cultural heritage of the region. Content from the documentary is available to public schools to include in their curriculum.
“All this work is designed to deepen people’s appreciation and understanding of natural and cultural history and also motivate them to be better stewards of the environment,” CGEE Assistant Director John Shepard said.
PBS North plans to release the program to state and national PBS affiliates later this month, Shepard said. At that time, it’s expected the program will also be available to stream on-demand.