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Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland

August 31, 2015
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BAR HARBOR The Abbe Museum, the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine, is pleased to announce its participation in the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II (YCCC II) program. By partnering with schools in the Wabanaki communities, students had the opportunity to research, learn about and photograph the cosmos using telescopes owned and maintained by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The resulting exhibit, Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland, will open on Sept. 10 to coincide with the Acadia Night Sky Festival.

'The goal of the YCCC II program is to use hands-on exercises to teach youth how to control the MicroObservatory robotic telescopes over the internet and take their own images of the universe,' said Abbe Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy. 'Here at the Abbe, the project also encouraged students to choose subjects based on Wabanaki stories about the stars. Each student had the opportunity to research traditional stories and interpret them in a modern context using 21st century technology.'

Originally beginning as an online exhibit featuring the Indian Township School, the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland exhibit features photos taken by children in the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Penobscot and Micmac communities in Maine. After hearing the Wabanaki night sky stories, each student was asked to choose a photography subject that they could connect to the storiesthat inspired them in some way. Once targets were chosen, students selected parameters such as exposure time, color filters and zoom angles to ensure a high quality photo. The images were then captured by the telescopes after sunset and emailed to the students.

Once the students received their images, they began using the MicroObservatory Image software to edit and colorize the photos. Students were able to remove noiseextra light in the photo that did not come from celestial bodiesbefore sharpening the lights, changing light levels and contrast and, finally, colorizing the photos.

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland is open through 2016. The Abbe Museum is open seven days a week now through October.

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos is funded by the Smithsonian Institution's Youth Access Grants program awarded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access. The project is led by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations.

Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational, and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. More information is available at

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe. More information is available at

The 7th Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival is set for Sept. 10-14, 2015, and is already packed with a full schedule of events. With workshops, internationally recognized speakers and hands-on experiences, there truly is something for everyone from families to the serious amateur astronomer. For more information, visit

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