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International Dark Sky Parks in the world! The Headlands · International Dark Sky Parks in the world! ... include guest storytellers, as well as great views of Venus and the Crescent

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    In summer 2013, Emmet County IT Director Gary Appold captured this photo of the Milky Way above the

    Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Using a time lapse setting, he was able to capture satellites and meteors moving

    through the frame, at one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. to view the night sky - Emmet County, Michigan!


    Emmet County, Michigan

    2014 program schedule insideHeads up!

    Navigating to the HeadlandsThe Headlands is located 2 miles west of

    downtown Mackinaw City, Emmet County, in Northwest Lower Michigan.

    What is a Dark Sky Park?It is a park or other protected public

    land possessing exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scientific and natu-ral resource. The designation is made by the International Dark-Sky Association in Tucson, Ariz. (

    How many such parks are there?Twelve total, and nine in the U.S.: THE HEADLANDS,

    Emmet County, Mich.; Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah; Cherry Springs State Park, Penn.; Geauga Park District’s Observatory Park, Ohio; Clayton Lake State Park and Chaco Culture National Park, New Mexico; Big Bend National Park, Texas; Death Valley National Park, Calif.; Goldendale Observatory Park, Wash. There are two in Hungary and one in Scotland.

    What will I find at Headlands?• 600 acres of pristine, old-growth forest• 4 1/2 miles of trails (year ‘round, nonmotorized use)• A self-guided cell phone tour detailing points of interest• 2 1/2 miles of frontage on Lake Michigan, where an estimated 80+ shipwrecks lie• One overnight residence for rent, accommodating 20+• Spectacular starry skies!

    What can I see overhead at the park?The Headlands is located north of the 45th parallel, which

    means it is closer to the North Pole than the equator, affording exceptional views of the five North ‘circumpolar’ constellations (those which never set from the northern sky viewer’s latitude) including Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cassiopeia and Cepheus. The Milky Way, major meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses and comets are all visible from the Headlands.The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are also visible in

    Northern Michigan, though difficult to predict. They seem to be more prevalent at the times of Equinox (late March and September). Contemporary scientists believe they are caused by electromagnetic storms on the Sun. Go to, NASA’s web site, for updates.Register for Emmet County's twice-monthly email blasts about what's happening in the night sky by

    emailing [email protected]

    About the Dark Sky ParkProgram Director

    Mary Stewart Adams is a star lore historian, storyteller and author who has been immersed in the history of star knowledge for 30 years. For the past several years Mary served as the leader of the initiative that achieved Interna-tional Dark Sky Park designation for the Headlands, and now serves as its Program Director. She writes and speaks extensively to local, national and international audiences on our relationship to the night sky and its cultural con-sequences. Join Mary under the stars to celebrate the fundamental human happiness that results from learning the history, the art, the science and the poetry of the stars.

    Mary makes her home with her four children under the starry skies of Harbor Springs, Mich. She can be reached at (231) 838-8181, or email [email protected]

    Programs at the Headlands are always free and take place rain, snow or shine! Please note that it’s typically

    at least 10 degrees cooler along the Lake Michigan shoreline than inland, so dress appropriately.

    7725 E. Wilderness Park Dr.Mackinaw City, MI 49701

    General, program info: (231) 348-1704 Guest House reservations: (231) 436-4051

    [email protected]

    The Headlands is one of just 12 International Dark Sky Parks in the world!

    To Petoskeyon U.S. 31 ↓

  • 2014 Dark Sky Park eventsEvents take place rain or shine. Additional programs added throughout the year online:* Programs take place at the designated Dark Sky Viewing Area unless otherwise noted. Follow the signs through the park.

    SATURDAY, JAN. 4 BEYOND THE TELESCOPE ~ THE STORYTELLER’S GUIDE TO THE NIGHT SKY Join us under snow and stars as we celebrate the season of storytelling and highlights of the coming year. Program will include guest storytellers, as well as great views of Venus and the Crescent Moon. 5-7 p.m. Guest House

    SATURDAY, FEB. 8 ● FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON, PART I Because of a quirk in the calendar, there will be no New Moon in February 2014 ~ so what better time than this to gather and learn about the latest in lunar science and discovery, including current missions, contemporary theories regarding Moon’s origin, and telescopic views of our nearest companion. 6-8 p.m. Guest House

    SATURDAY, MARCH 1 THE TECH LOVER’S GUIDE TO THE NIGHT SKY From telescopes to starwalk apps, laser pointers to sun filters, there’s a lot of technology out there to keep us informed (and confused!). We’re gathering the experts to answer everything from the most basic to the most advanced questions. 6-8 p.m. Guest House

    TUESDAY, APRIL 15 ● FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON, PART II This year’s Total Eclipse of the Full Moon will be visible overnight from Monday to Tuesday at the Headlands, and our field trip tonight will include the stories of the ages regarding eclipses, with rare and wonderful views through binoculars and telescopes. Ideal for photography! 12:30 a.m. - 4 a.m. (yes, you read that time correctly!) Guest House

    TUESDAY, APRIL 22 ☼ OUTDOOR LIGHTING FORUM ANNUAL LUNCHEON At this year’s luncheon, we will celebrate the successes of those businesses and individuals who are protecting the dark! Special guest speaker and a great meal. The public is invited for the price of your own lunch. 11:30 a.m. City Park Grill restaurant, Petoskey SATURDAY, MAY 10 GREAT LAKES, DARK SKIES In order to fully celebrate our 3rd anniversary as Michigan’s only International Dark Sky Park, we are inviting a host of astronomy clubs from around the state to join us for an evening of astronomy. Perfect for night-sky enthusiasts of all ages . Starting at 8:30 p.m.

    SATURDAY, JUNE 21 A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A DARK SKY PARK We’ll dedicate this longest day of the year to understanding that it means to be a Dark Sky Park. Program will include highlights of summer season, bonfire, storytelling, telescopes and more. 8:30-10:30 p.m.

    FRIDAY, JUNE 27 ● NEW MOON STARGAZE PICNICNew Moon can be the darkest time of the month. With tonight's first New Moon of the summer, we’ll gather to take advantage of the dark with stories of the visible constel-lations. This program is timed to coincide with the Boötid Meteor Shower. 8:30-10:30 p.m.

    SATURDAY, JULY 26 ● NEW MOON STARGAZE PICNICJuly is the month of the Thunder Moon, and as Jupiter nears the end of its sojourn in our evening skies, we will gather for mythological tales of the "Thunderer," and enjoy telescopic views of the largest planet. 8:30-10:30 p.m.

    TUESDAY, JULY 29 LIGHTS OUT ACROSS THE STRAITS & THE BAY The Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower will be on display this

    night, and the communities of St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, as well as Harbor Springs and Petoskey, are taking the pledge to turn off the lights in a friendly competition to achieve greater darkness! Details

    MONDAY, AUG. 25 ● NEW MOON STARGAZE PICNICSummer is not complete without an evening relaxing on a blanket beneath the stars. Stargazer's bonus: The richest part of the Milky Way arcs overhead in August! 8:30-10:30 p.m.

    SATURDAY, SEPT. 6 ● HARVEST MOON DANCE WITH LIVE MUSIC!The rhythmic rising and setting of sun and moon and stars throughout the season draws forth an abundant harvest from the Earth, and a desire to dance in the rest of us! 7:30-9:30 p.m.

    SATURDAY, SEPT. 20 WANING MOON STARGAZE AND AURORA TALKThere is evidence that the aurora are more frequent at the time of Equinox each year. Join us with aurora experts and photographers to celebrate this most popular of celestial events (please note this does not intend to imply that the Northern Lights will be visible on this evening). 7-9 p.m.

    FRIDAY, OCT. 17 THE HERO'S METEOR SHOWEROrion was a great hunter to the Ancient Greeks; Osiris to the Ancient Egyptians; and in the world of fairy tale, he is the giant Jack encounters once he trades his cow for a handful of beans. 8-10 p.m. Guest House

    SATURDAY, OCT. 25 SIXTH ANNUAL HEADLANDS CHALLENGE Each year we park our cars, turn off the lights and head off into the dark to meet "Destiny" during the Headlands Challenge and Triple Fright Night. Walk the one-mile, dimly-lighted path through this old-growth forest. Also participating are McGulpin Point Lighthouse and Mackinaw's Heritage Village. 8-10 p.m. Guest House

    SATURDAY, NOV. 15 THE LION'S ROAR ~ METEOR SHOWERS AND MOREMeteor Showers take their name from the constellation in front of which the radiant (or center point) appears, and are caused by Earth passing through the trail of comets that speed through our system. Tonight we will consider the parent comets of our most popular showers. 8-10 p.m. Guest House

    SATURDAY, NOV. 22 THANKSGIVING NEW MOON STARGAZETonight we will explore the winter constellations, hear their tales, and make ready for the best stargazing tips and gear for the end of the year. Time TBA, Guest House

    SATURDAY, DEC. 20 THE METEOR SHOWER OF THE GREAT BEARSThe Ursid Meteor Shower peaks overhead and the constel-lation Perseus comes to its highest place in its nighttime trek while cultures around the world celebrate the stand-ing still of the Sun with its mysteries. Tonight we will count shooting stars as we consider seasonal traditions and how they are rooted in the stars overhead. Time TBA, Guest House

    Heads Up!What you need to know about the park

    The Headlands is open 24 hours a day, every day, at no charge. Visitors are welcomed to stay out through the night for dark-sky viewing opportunities (camping units are not permitted). You may bring blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, food, beverages, etc. Plan accordingly and dress for temperatures 10 degrees below what you expect. The park is on the shore of Lake Michigan and is always cooler than inland.Public Dark Sky Park programs take place about 1 mile from

    the entrance at the Dark Sky Viewing Area (unless otherwise noted). Programs are intended for naked-eye observation; however, feel free to bring binoculars or telescopes if you prefer. If you are heading to the Headlands on a non-program outing, look for the signs for Dark Sky Viewing; there is a designated trail and viewing area along the lakeshore. Please utilize red-filter flashlights when possible.

    2014 note: Construction of restrooms and a new facility will be taking place at least through the end of summer.