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In quest of dark skies, graveside dining and a little Disney

Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm


By Peter Covino
A&E Editor
Turn out the lights — the party is still going on.
Unless you are reading this on line (and it still isn’t Friday night) this is the final night of  Dark Sky Festival in Harmony.
If you are a regular readiner of the Arts & Entertainment section of the paper, you probably already know all about the festival or have a pretty good idea just what it is all about.
I have made the trek over to Harmony several times for Dark Sky (this is the first time the festival has been expanded to two days) and if you are a sky enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to go at least once.
Despite the “Dark Sky” title, conditions are not exactly ideal for stargazing at Harmony Square. You really need complete darkness at a star party, and there is still light pollution from the square as well as homes. But the community is, of course, very dark sky conscious and does its best to keep light to a minimum. I’ve found the really dark places are actually away from the festival center, in the parking lots. A few years ago, it took me forever to find my parked car, it is that dark. And not coincindentally, the star-viewing was also better in the parking lot.
Weather permitting, clear skies should be at a maximum this weekend. It’s a new moon so that will be a plus for looking up.
Several area astronomy groups, as well as amateurs, will have telescopes set up, and that is the best part of the evening
No matter how many science shows you watch on TV or photographs you see of Mars or Jupiter, there is something awe-inspiring about a “live” look at the planets through a telescope. Sure, these are not the upclose images you see when a Mars rover sends back photos,  but backyard astronomy really can provide such a big thrill. Most kids should love it as well.
In addition to star-gazing through telescopes, festival highlights include an actual moon rock, on display forviewing and a visit by the local Star Wars chapter, the 501st Legion, which means there will be Star Wars characters roaming the festival on Saturday, including the gloom of doom himself, Darth Vader.
There are always several “star” experts in attendance at the festival. Saturday’s special guest is former astronaut Story Musgrave. He will be receiving an award from the International Dark Sky Association as their newest Dark Sky Ambassador.
Story was a NASA astronaut for more than 30 years and flew on six spaceflights. including the first shuttle spacewalk on Challenger’s first flight.
The festival also includes many vendors and a variety of  educational activities on space, science and technology.
Admission and parking to the festival are free.
Dead of night
There is more dark fun next Saturday at Osceola County Historical Society once again presents Dine with the Departed.
This is the perfect Halloween event, even if it is March.
Dine with the Departed features a gourmet barbecue dinner, live entertainment, spirits, and most importantly, a lantern tour of Kissimmee’s historic Rose Hill Cemetery.
During the tour, dining guests will encounter some of Kissimmee’s most interesting people from the county’s historic past, recreated by actors.
The dining festivities begin at 6 p.m.
Advance reservations are required, so if you are dying to get in on the fun, you need to act now to get a ticket.
Tickets are $50 each. Corporate tables also are available.
Mickey on
your phone
I already have more than 80 movies and TV series that I can watch via the cloud using UltraViolet, one of those online storage systems used by Warner Bros and Universal and others.
Well, Walt Disney Studios has just gotten into the act as well, giving us more reasons to stare at our tablets and phones.
You wouldn’t expect Disney to make a small splash in the pool when they do something and with access to Disney, Pixar and Marvel films, we are not talking about a few ripples.
Disney Movies Anywhere is the name of the new service, and surprisingly, right now it is just for iPhone, iPad and iPad touch. That means the larger android market is excluded, at least for now.
The debut of Disney Movies Anywhere coincides with the digital release of Disney’s hit film Frozen and features Disney’s library of more than 400 active digital titles. In addition, for a limited time, Disney Movies Anywhere users who activate and connect their Disney Movies Anywhere account to their iTunes account will receive a free digital copy of Disney•Pixar’s animated classic The Incredibles.
Yes, this only works with iTunes. I haven’t touched my iTunes account in more than a few years.
But you can log into the Disney Movies Anywhere website via a desktop or laptop to watch movies  as well.
A big plus is, if you have buying Diamond Editions and other Disney Blu-ray combos that included a reedemable digital copy, you can redeem those new copies at Disney Movies Anywhere, plus all titles previously redeemed in Disney Movie Rewards will be automatically active in both Disney Movies Anywhere and iTunes. Consumers can now get Disney Movie Reward points through the Disney Movies Anywhere account as well.
The Disney Movies Anywhere App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at Sign up is also available through the Disney Movies Anywhere website.
Geeky fun
There is more fun science with the edgy and humorous David Pogue coming up soon at Valencia College.
Pogue, NOVA Science Now host, as well as many more science contributions, will lecture on how, and predict which, technologies will cause major disruptive changes to American Society.
Pogue will be at the East Campus Performing Arts Center at Valencia, March 25, at 1 p.m.
You can see some of his latest clips at:
With more than 3 million books in print, Pogue is one of the world’s bestselling how-to authors. He wrote or co-wrote seven books in the “for Dummies” series (including Macs, Magic, Opera, and Classical Music). In 1999, he launched his own series of funny computer books called the Missing Manual series, which now includes 120 titles.
Pogue graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1985, with distinction in music, and spent 10 years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals in New York. He has won two Emmy awards, two Webby awards, a Loeb award for journalism and an honorary doctorate in music. His web site is
Pogue’s appearance is presented by Valencia College’s East Campus Humanities Speakers Series.
Valencia’s East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando. For information, call 407-582-2349.