Earth Week kicked off Friday with an experiential presentation on Indigenous Astronomy and light pollution.
Minnesota State University Astronomy Prof. Michael Rutkowski, gave an hour-long lecture on light pollution and the importance of preserving the night sky before traveling to the Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site in Comfrey, a trip that included a tour of the facility, a presentation about archaeoastronomy and wrapped up with an 11 p.m. telescopic viewing of the sky.
“We owe our existence as humans to our connection with the night sky,” Rutkowski said about ancient humans studying the Earth in relation to the cosmos. “Those connections that we have developed have led to the development of the civilizations that we have today.”
More events are scheduled every day through April 23, the only paid event, which is a $10 hiking road trip through three Minnesota State Parks: Minneopa State Park, Flandrau State Park and Fort Ridgely State Park. Participants, who must pre-register online, will leave the Otto Rec Center at 9 a.m. to return at 4 p.m.
Other events, all of which are open to the public as well as current MSU students, faculty and staff, include a mix of lectures and physical activities.
Sunday’s event was a climbing challenge at the Myer’s Field House rock wall for prizes, in partnership with Maverick Adventures.
Monday’s day of gardening, “Growing in the Food Garden,” is hosted in partnership with the Maverick Food Pantry and the Women’s Center.
More physical activities are planned for Tuesday with outdoor HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), a median temperature day in the week.
Wednesday and Thursday will be volunteer events involving campus cleanup. Wednesday’s cleanup is focused on removing tobacco waste on campus in partnership with the American Lung Association, MN. Data will be collected from the collected waste and its locations to determine “hotspots” for tobacco use on campus.
This day is dual purpose for litter attention and offering support for those who wish to quit smoking and/or vaping. An ALA Certified Tobacco Cessation Specialist will be on campus to talk about quitting techniques. Thursday’s cleanup, sponsored by the Kearney International Center, is focused on general trash litter on campus and neighboring areas. Trash bags and gloves will be provided to volunteers both of these days.
Thursday also has another outdoor exercise class, this being the Total Body Conditioning class. As with Tuesday’s outdoor HIIT class and Friday’s All Levels Grounding Yoga class, it is in partnership with Campus Recreation.
Friday will be returning to the Astronomy-focus of seven days prior with a nighttime telescope viewing of cosmic rays from the Andreas Observatory. An indoor presentation on cosmic rays will be followed by outdoor s’mores and the night sky viewing.
Earth Week closes its on-campus activities Saturday with a festival of interactive stations between Trafton and Armstrong Hall. Stations will be Geography and drones, Biology and biodiversity, water quality, Anthropology and the history of the region’s human habitation and sustainable environmental planning by the Urban and Regional Studies Institute.
Registration for each event is available online and they are all weather-permitting.
Header photo: Professor Michael Rutkowski kicked off Earth Week by giving a presentation Friday about light pollution and the importance of preserving the night sky before the group went to a historic petroglyphs site for a telescopic viewing. (Phedias Pierides/The Reporter)
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