Joseph Smith as Augustin-Jean Fresnel

The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society will present Joseph Smith as Augustin-Jean Fresnel, inventor of the Fresnel lens at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 28, in the Ocracoke Community Center. The public is invited to this free event.

From the first lighthouse known to man, the Pharos in Alexandria Egypt (built 247 BC until 1822), different oils and lighting mechanisms have been used to guide mariners to safety. All were inefficient.

Augustin Fresnel, a Frenchman, worked for years to perfect a type of lens that would magnify light so that it could be seen as far as 21 miles, thus making navigating treacherous waters less hazardous.

Joseph Smith, a re-enactor of Fresnel, will explain the engineer and physicist’s method and how his invention has protected the waters of North Carolina’s coast in general and Ocracoke in particular.

Smith’s presentation will bring history to life and give the Ocracoke community a better understanding and appreciation of Fresnel’s work, and the history of the lighthouse that since 1823 has served mariners who have traversed the waters near Ocracoke Island.

Made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, the presentation and question-answer period will take about one hour.

For information, contact Bett Padgett,, 919-264-3075, or visit the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society at

Augustin-Jean Fresnel,
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