Lights Out Across the Straits 2013

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‘Lights Out Across the Straits!’ dark-sky challenge set for Aug. 12, 2013

You've been wowed with fireworks, you've been awed by laser light shows, you've sent your wishes aloft on Chinese lanterns. And now, it’s time to celebrate the majesty of the dark.

The Straits of Mackinac area enjoys the unique and prestigious distinction of being home to one of only eight International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S., and one of just 11 in the world, at Emmet County’s Headlands park property.

In celebration of protecting the night sky, the communities of Mackinaw City and St Ignace are taking part in a friendly “Lights Out Across the Straits!” challenge set for Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 from 10:30-11:30 p.m.

The challenge? See which community can achieve greater darkness.

The event is timed to coincide with the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower on Aug. 12, the most popular meteor shower of the year. Area residents, guests and business owners can show their support by signing a Lights Out Pledge and posting their support in residence windows or at the entrance to business locations.

The pledge forms are available at the Chamber Offices in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, and online at the bottom of this page (or clicking on the link). Mackinaw Chamber: 226 E. Central Ave., Mackinaw City; St. Ignace Chamber: 560 N. State St., St. Ignace. The bottom of the forms can be returned to the chambers or mailed (instructions are on the form).

“Signing the pledge means you agree to turn out your outdoor lights and inhibit any indoor light from spilling outside for one hour, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m., on Monday, August 12,” said Mary Stewart Adams, Dark Sky Park Program Director at the Headlands. “It’s free, it’s fraught with good will, it saves money, and provides a great way to get to know your neighbors.”

How will it work?

Step one: Prior to the event, designated Emmet County staff will measure the sky quality, using a Sky Quality Meter that registers darkness levels, in St. Ignace and in Mackinaw City.

Step two: Between now and the event, area residents, business owners and visitors will pledge to turn out the lights.

Step three: On Aug. 12, between 10:30-11:30 p.m., turn out your lights across the Straits!

The amount of difference in the quality of darkness from lights-on to lights-off will be announced at local gathering places and on Emmet County’s Web site and Facebook page. Follow Adams on Twitter, too, @headlandsstars

“Though this is the first year of our effort to raise the standard for effective community action regarding the night sky, we can translate the different measurements into kilowatt hours and dollars and cents, so that we can all be informed about how much we are saving by turning out the lights,” Adams noted.

On the night of Aug. 12, there will be a meteor shower bring-your-own-picnic party at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park from 8:30-10:30 p.m., followed by community gatherings in both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City where residents, business owners and area visitors can gather to witness one another’s efforts. Once those locations are determined they will be announced.

The Lights Out initiative, led by Emmet County, includes the joint efforts of St. Ignace and Mackinaw City Mayors and Village Managers, Council Members, both Chambers of Commerce, Visitors’ Bureaus, and Downtown Development Authorities, as well as the Mackinac Bridge Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“Truly it takes the entire community to protect the vast and inspiring resource of the deep, dark night sky that we enjoy in the Straits area,” Adams said.

To learn more about the International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, visit www.emmetcounty.org/darkskypark/ or email darksky@emmetcounty.org; phone is (231) 348-1704.

Did you know?

 Did you know that nearly $2.2 billion dollars is spent every year in the U.S. alone on light that is wasted because it is spilled up into the night sky where it’s not needed? By choosing night sky friendly outdoor lighting, directing the light where it’s needed, and using only the amount of light that’s needed at the time that it’s needed, not only saves money, it saves precious resources. What’s more, night sky preservation fortifies nocturnal habitats, and restores the natural beauty of any and every area where it is implemented.

Source: International Dark Sky Association

 

Lights Out pledge form to fill out