Please note that due to popular demand, Headlands International Dark Sky Park staff will be on hand on many evenings throughout the summer to answer questions, lead informal tours of the trails and the skies, and to help you to get the most out of being in the dark with us! Check the board at the entrance gazebo for information about when staff is available.

 

Please click here to take Emmet County's survey about what types of programs and events you'd like to see at the Headlands!

 

2014 Program Schedule

Emmet County continues to present fascinating Dark Sky Park Programming at the Headlands each month, with Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams!

 

         

Below is a look at the programs that are currently planned for 2014 at the Headlands. All programs are FREE of charge and take place rain, snow or shine! Please note that programs are added regularly; check back often for updates.

Open Telescope Nights at CAMP PETOSEGA during Summer 2014!

Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga will host Open Telescope Nights once a month during the summer, offering campers and the public a chance to look skyward and some celestial objects not readily visible to the naked eye! Please note these events are not taking place at Headlands, as we bring dark-sky awareness to other county properties in the spirit of night-sky protection!

The telescope nights will take place:

- Wednesday, July 23, 9 p.m.

- Wednesday, Aug. 20, 8:30 p.m.

These events are free and open to the public and no reservations are needed. They'll be hosted by local astronomers. For more information, call (231) 838-8181. Plan to meet at the stone gate near the entrance to the campground. Campers and noncampers are welcome to come out for the event!

 

July

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The Milky Way above the Headlands!

Saturday, July 26

'New Moon Stargaze Picnic'

Details
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area
Time: 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Food: Etta's restaurant will be on-site with selling food (sandwiches, hot dogs and more) from its vending truck

The darkest time of month means the best stargazing in Northwest Michigan at the Headlands!

 

For summer stargazers in Northern Michigan, the end of July inaugurates one of the most gratifying experiences of the season: Views to the thickest part of the Milky Way Galaxy.

“In May, the Milky Way is as flat around the horizon as it can get, and seems to disappear from our view. Then, as though adorning the mighty wings of the constellation Cygnus, the swan, rising in the northeast each evening, the Milky Way’s river of stars arcs up overhead, opening views of our celestial environment with awe and wonder,” said Mary Stewart Adams, Dark Sky Park Program Director at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City.

To celebrate the beauty of this time of year from the celestial perspective, the Headlands is hosting a New Moon Stargazing event from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, at the park located 2 miles west of downtown Mackinaw. It is free and open to the public, and takes place rain or shine.

It promises an exceptional night of sky-gazing, according to Adams.

"When we look toward the region between the Scorpion and Sagittarius, we are looking toward the center of our galaxy, with all of its mystery," she explained. "The thickest part of the Milky Way becomes visible to us earlier and earlier as we make our way through the mid-to-late summer weeks, accompanied by the mighty heroes of the night, Perseus and Hercules, trailing shooting stars in their wake and setting the stage for magical encounters in the dark."

With the Moon reaching New Phase at 6:43 pm on July 26, conditions are ideal for a truly dark night at the Headlands, where the red planet Mars is taking its leave of the blue-white star Spica, following its path toward the golden, ringed planet Saturn. The stars Arcturus and Antares are brilliantly positioned around this scene of planets, and Perseus begins to mount up over the horizon, with the 'demon star' Algol clutched in his hand.

To take best advantage of this sky show, participants in the Headlands "New Moon Stargaze Picnic" are encouraged to arrive early, and to bring picnic blanket or camp chairs with your favorite foods and friends, to claim your spot on the grassy slope where you can lie back and take in the wonders overhead. Program is scheduled from 8:30-10:30 pm so guests can arrive during daylight hours, take in the sun as it sets over Lake Michigan, and hear the tales, the science, and the poetry of the night while waiting for the stars to shine.

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

 

 

It's our big annual challenge ....

which community can achieve greater darkness?

 

LIGHTS OUT ACROSS THE STRAITS

and

LIGHTS OUT ACROSS THE BAY

2014!

 

Tuesday, July 29

 

Click on the links above to learn about the Lights Out Challenges in each set of communities

 

 

Details:
The Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower will rain overhead 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 see who can achieve greater darkness. Watch the lights go down and the stars come out to play!

              

       

August

Tuesday, Aug. 12

'The Perseid Meteor Shower Picnic'

 

Details:
Time: starting at sunset, 8:54 p.m.
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area

 

Though the Perseids are diminished by nearly Full moonlight this year, we can think of no better way to spend an evening in Northern Michigan than beside the shores of the Great Lake, with moonlight on high and the chance of shooting stars overhead. Bring your favorite picnic items and partners, and join us for a dazzling and romantic evening under the starry skies of the Headlands.

Monday, Aug. 25

'New Moon Stargaze Picnic'

Details
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area
Time: 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Summer is not complete without an evening relaxing on a blanket beneath the stars in Northwest Michigan! Stargazer's bonus: The richest part of the Milky Way arcs overhead in August.

 

September

 

Friday, September 5

'Harvest Moon Dance with Live Music!'

Details
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area
Time: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
 

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! We are pleased to host the dynamic sounds of Moxie Strings for our first-ever Harvest Moon Dance under the big tent and starry skies. To get a taste of their sound, follow this link: http://www.themoxiestrings.com/

 

 

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David Levy

Saturday, Sept. 20

 

Headlands International Dark Sky Park will welcome astronomer David Levy!

'David Levy and the Poetry of the Night'

 

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 7 to 9 p.m.

 

The Headlands International Dark Sky Park and Emmet County are pleased to announce special guest David H. Levy for the Sept. 20, 2014, program, "David Levy and the Poetry of the Night.”

Levy is arguably one of the most enthusiastic and famous amateur astronomers of our time.  Although he has never taken a class in astronomy, he has made 23 comet discoveries, the most famous being the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994. He has also discovered more than 500 asteroids, has received an Emmy for the documentary Three Minutes to Impact, and has five honorary doctorates in science. Levy has written more than three dozen books, is a regular contributor to several astronomy magazines, and has appeared on television programs featured on the Discovery and the Science Channels.  His PhD combines astronomy and English Literature.  Currently, he is the editor of the web magazine Sky’s Up!  while sustaining an international lecture schedule and continuing to hunt for comets and asteroids.

The Headlands program is offered in partnership with the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club and it occurs the night of September's waning Moon phase, which means skies will be clear for spectacular views of the thickest part of the Milky Way and the Summer Triangle.

“Additionally, September is the month when the largest numbers of asteroids have been discovered, so what better way to spend an evening than with an asteroid discovery expert?” said Mary Stewart Adams, Dark Sky Park Program Director.

Stargazing will follow Levy’s program. Reservations are not required, and the program is free of charge. It will take place rain or shine. Also, please note this program represents a change in the 2014 Dark Sky Park program schedule for Sept. 20, originally planned to be an informational session on the aurora borealis.

If you have questions, call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

 

October

 

 

 

Wednesday, Oct. 8

'Field Trip to the Moon Part III'

 

Details:
Time: before and until sunrise, 5:30 to 7:45 a.m. (please note a.m. time)
Location: Guest House

 

Part III of this year's "Field Trip to the Moon" is timed to the peak of the Total Lunar Eclipse on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 8. This eclipse is the second in the series of four Total Lunar Eclipses making up the tetrad of eclipses that is occurring from April 2014 through September 2015, and will be in phase as it is setting for Northern Michigan observers. We will gather at the Headlands Guest House area to watch the eclipsing Moon over Lake Michigan from 5:30 am until sunrise, at 7:46 am. We will have telescopes, binoculars, art supplies and light refreshment on hand for this event, which promises to be a great photographic opportunity, with the drama of Full Moon setting into Earth's shadow while lowering into the Lake.

Friday, Oct. 17

'The Hero's Meteor Shower'

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 8 to 10 p.m.

Orion was a great hunter to the Ancient Greeks; Osiris to the Ancient Eqyptians; and in the world of Fairy Tale, he is the giant whom Jack encounters once he trades his cow for a handful of beans. All this tonight.

Saturday, Oct. 25

Sixth Annual 'Headlands Challenge'

Details
Location: Begin at the park entrance, end at the Guest House
Time: 8 to 10 p.m.

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 in Northern Emmet County. Walk the one-mile, dimly-lighted path through this old-growth forest. Also participating are McGulpin Point Lighthouse and Mackinaw's Heritage Village.

 

November

 

Saturday, Nov. 15

'The Lion's Roar - Meteor Showers and More'

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 8 to 10 p.m.

A meteor shower takes its name from the constellation in front of which the radiant (or center point) appears, and is caused by Earth passing through the trail left by comets as they speed through our system. Tonight we meet the parent comets of the popular showers.

 

Saturday, Nov. 22

'Thanksgiving New Moon Stargaze'

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 7 to 9 p.m.

Tonight 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.

December

Saturday, Dec. 20

'The Meteor Shower of the Great Bear'

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

As the Ursid Meteor Shower peaks overhead and the constellation Perseus comes to its highest place in its nighttime trek, cultures around the world celebrate the standing still of the sun with its mysteries. Tonight we will count shooting stars as we consider seasonal traditions that are rooted in the stars overhead.

 

 

 

Past 2014 Programs

Friday, July 18

'Headlands by Day,' with naturologist Maureen Stine

 

Details:
Time: 2-4 pm 
Location: Meet at the Headlands Park Entrance

The Headlands property is well-known as an International Dark Sky Park, but it is also a spectacular place by-day! The Headlands boasts miles of trails, an inland lake, and acres of untouched old-growth forest that make it as rich a resource by day as its skies are overhead at night.

For this uncommon daytime event, you are invited to join naturologist Maureen Stine for a fun, hands-on, multi-sensory program called, “Nature-Soup” which covers some water and land ecology studies and includes a nice easy nature walk. Guests can expect to talk about animal tracks, the Northern Lake Michigan watershed, fishing information and much more!

Best-suited for families with children ages 5-13. There is no cost for the program and reservations are not required.

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Saturday, July 5

Nature's Fireworks!

Details:
Time: 9 to 11 p.m.
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area

After the thrill of area fireworks, come on over to Headlands for the fun of finding the natural red, white and blue in the speculator night sky! This evening's program from 9 to 11 p.m. is scheduled to allow for settling in before sunset (at 9:32 pm), and for finding the fiery red planet Mars, making sparks with the white light of the first quarter Moon in the southwest, where they find themselves situated near the blue-white star Spica.

Friday, June 27

'New Moon Stargaze Picnic'

Details
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area
Time: 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

The first New Moon of the Summer season arrives in the wee hours of Friday, June 27, which means this evening promises some of the best stargazing all month.

“Because our Moon won't be visible on this evening, we will focus our program on all of the other Moons in our planetary system, of which there are over 160! And due to modern technology, more are always being discovered, so tonight's program will include the history of Moon discovery, what qualifies an object as a Moon, who gets naming rights, how do we find them in the sky, and more,” said Mary Stewart Adams, Dark Sky Park Program Director.

Come prepared for an engaging evening under the stars that will include the story, science, discovery and wonder of all the celestial companions making themselves known in orbit around most of the planets in our system.

And that's not all: As a bonus, June 27th is near the peak of the Bootid Meteor Shower, providing the perfect combination for a magical evening under the stars. Pack your picnic, bring a blanket or camp chairs, and invite your dearest friends and family to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park for a night full of natural wonder along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.

Program is timed to include sunset, and guests are encouraged to arrive early, bring a picnic, and stay late. Telescopes will be on hand. No reservations are needed. Event takes place rain or shine! (Tent is available for inclement weather.)

If you have questions, call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org.

The Headlands is a 600-acre park on the Straits of Mackinac, two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City, at 15675 Headlands Road (please note this is a new address as of January 2014). The park is free and open to the public every day. While no camping is allowed, visitors are welcome to stay overnight to observe the dark sky overhead. The Headlands became the 6th International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. and the 9th in the world in May 2011, and each month free programs are held for the public. Visit www.emmetcounty.org for 2012 programs and more information, email beckerle@emmetcounty.org, or call (231) 348-1704. The county sends regular email blasts as well with information about night-sky observation opportunities and celestial events; to register, use the contact information above.

(Sunset is 9:33 pm this evening)

 

June

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Milky Way above the Headlands

Saturday, June 21

'A Day in the Life of a Dark Sky Park'

June 21 event at Headlands International Dark Sky Park will celebrate this longest day of the year

Details
Date: Saturday, June 21: “Day in the Life of a Dark Sky Park”
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area
Time: 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. (sunset is 9:32 p.m. this evening)

“Because we're not your typical park, we get a lot of questions about what visitors can expect when they arrive at our dark wilderness along the rugged shores of upper Lake Michigan. So we're taking the time on this longest day of the year to lead our guests through what it means to achieve International Dark Sky designation, why it matters, and how to get involved in the magnificent movement of restoring starshine all over the world,” said Mary Stewart Adams, Program Director at the Headlands, in setting the stage for the next free public program at the Mackinaw City park.

The event is free and open to the public, and no reservations are required. It will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 21, at the designated Dark Sky Viewing Area; follow the signs through the park.

Bring a blanket, family and friends, pack a picnic, and make ready for a journey from the ground we refer to as the Headlands International Dark Sky park, into the majesty of the sky, where the Sun will have just made its Solstice moment of standing still (at 6:51 pm EST June 21), and then will set, “leaving in its wake the brilliant shine of Jupiter with the twins Castor and Pollux, followed on by Mars, Saturn, the rising Milky Way, the Summer Triangle and so much more,” Adams described.

Program will include highlights of the summer season, bonfire, storytelling, telescopes, and more.

“And all of this beside a roaring bonfire at the edge of one of the world's largest fresh water lakes, where the landscape is crowded with as much mystery and story as the sky is crowded with stars overhead. As with all of our programs, participants will be led through what's currently visible in the night sky on the wings of both story and science,” Adams said.

If you have questions, call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

May

Saturday, May 10

'Great Lakes, Dark Skies!'

Details
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: Dark Sky Viewing Area
 

Next Headlands Dark Sky Park program May 10 celebrates Michigan initiatives to protect the night

In May 2014, Emmet County's Headlands property celebrates its third year as Michigan's only designated International Dark Sky Park. The designation is made by the International Dark Sky Association, and has brought a tremendous amount of community awareness to the night sky as a statewide-resource worth protecting.

To honor this achievement, and to continue local efforts to raise awareness about why dark skies are essential, Emmet County is hosting the program “Great Lakes, Dark Skies.” The program is open to the public, and is the inaugural event that will occur each year as a way to bring night sky enthusiasts throughout the region together for an open forum on night sky issues, developments in the world of astronomy and outdoor lighting, and more.

“Michigan is unique in the U.S. as the first state to protect its own dark skies with the legislation established to protect Lake Hudson State Park in the mid-1990s. Further, following the Headlands designation in 2011, the state passed legislation protecting an additional 23,000 acres of state land, in 2012,” said Mary Stewart Adams, Headlands Program Director. “We now enjoy partnerships with many organizations, including the National Park Service Dark Sky Management Team. The level of interest and demand generated by the Headlands Dark Sky programming puts us in the position of helping to steward natural darkness and to support other communities in doing the same.”

Participants joining Emmet County in discussions of protecting the night sky and stargazing at this dark wilderness will include the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomy Association, Delta County astronomers (Upper Peninsula), various counties, state park representatives, lighting advocates, amateur astronomers and photographers.

The event will take place at the Dark Sky Viewing Area; follow the signs in the park. Headlands events take place rain or shine. No reservations are necessary and there is no cost to attend.

If you have questions, call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

 

Saturday, May 24

'True North Meteor Shower'

 

Details:
Time: 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. (yes, a.m.!)
Location: Entrance to Headlands

Comet 209P/Linear, discovered in 2004, made its closest approach to the Sun in early May 2014 and will sweep closest to Earth on May 29.  Because comets usually leave a trail of celestial dust in their wake, we may enjoy a brand new meteor shower when we cross Linear's path in the early hours of Saturday, May 24, between 3 and 4 a.m.

Join us the entrance to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park for this possible first-time-ever event, which we are calling the "True North Meteor Shower" because the radiant, or center point from which the meteors seem to shoot, is in front of Polaris, our North Star.

Meteor Showers are not suited to telescopic views, but we will have telescopes and binoculars on hand for viewing the waning crescent Moon and Venus, our morning star. We will gather from 3 a.m. to sunrise at 5:59 am.

No reservations necessary.

April

 
 

Tuesday, April 22

Outdoor Lighting Forum Annual Luncheon

Details
Location: City Park Grill, Petoskey
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


The success of the Headlands programs has inspired the efforts of the State of Michigan to include night sky interpretation in the state park system (especially through Michigan's Public Act 251 in 2012), and in 2013 we drew the attention of the National Park Service Dark Sky Management Team. At this year's OLF luncheon we will celebrate these successes and more with a special guest speaker and a great meal! Public invited for the price of your own lunch, and the public is also welcome to nominate individuals or businesses practicing to be honored for their use effective outdoor lighting in the Northern Lower Michigan area.

Send nominations to: darksky@emmetcounty.org

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Photo/Robert de Jonge

 

Tuesday, April 15

'Field Trip to the Moon, Part II'

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 12:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. (yes, you read that time right!)

 

Stay up with Emmet County all night!

 

Not since 2010 has North America enjoyed the views of a Total Lunar Eclipse, but it's time to make ready. Just after midnight from Monday, April 14, to Tuesday, April 15, the Full Moon will pass through the deepest part of Earth's shadow, causing an eclipse that will last for three hours and 35 minutes from start to finish.

And at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, that's cause for celebration!

"The exciting thing about this particular eclipse is that, in addition to being the first one that we've seen in awhile, it marks the beginning of a rare series of eclipses known as a Lunar Tetrad," said Mary Stewart Adams, Program Director for the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. "A Lunar Tetrad is a series of four Total Lunar Eclipses uninterrupted by a partial eclipse, and it is something that will only happen eight times in the 21st century."

Eclipse times on Tuesday, April 15 are as follows:

Partial Eclipse begins at 1:58 a.m., local time

Total Eclipse begins at 3:06 a.m.

Greatest Eclipse occurs at 3:46 a.m.

Total Eclipse ends at 4:25 a.m.

Partial Eclipse ends at 5:33 a.m.

In addition to the rare nature of the Lunar Tetrad, Adams noted that each of the four eclipses will be visible throughout North America.  “Lunar Eclipses have been regarded as omens in many cultural traditions, and they continue to provide unique opportunities for scientific research and discovery,” Adams noted.

At the Headlands program "Field Trip to the Moon" on Tuesday, April 15 – starting at 12:30 a.m. (yes, you read that time correctly) and until 4 a.m., guests will enjoy naked eye and telescopic views of the eclipse, storytelling, terrific photographic opportunities and artistic activity. A new activity is planned to add to the cultural significance of this celestial event.

"This year we're partnering with the Mackinaw Area Arts Council to host eclipse sketching," said Adams. She said the partnership arose in part on the observation by astronomers with Astronomy Magazine that while photographing eclipses can be spectacular, notes and sketches made during an eclipse can help to recall details of the phenomena later in ways that are more intimate and personal to one's experience, because they are more true to what the eye can see.

"By making our own sketches we capture not only the unique nature of the event, but also our own perspective, no matter how artistic we deem ourselves," continued Adams, pointing out that the Moon will be near the bright blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo, with the red planet Mars nearby. "At eclipse, the Moon appears reddish, Spica will be brilliant, and Mars will add its own color to the scheme."

Local photographer Lorie Axtell will assist in the development of the journals/sketches. “We hope to encourage some writing and journaling of the actual experience and to have guests write down their thoughts and feelings surrounding the event – wherever the mind and imagination take us!” Axtell said. “We could get some poetry or great short stories out of this unique community experience.”

The Headlands Field Trip to the Moon is free and open to the public, light refreshments and some materials will be provided, and guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets, chairs, sketch pads, and perhaps coffee. Reservations are not required. Meet at the Guest House.

If you have questions, call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

 

 

 

Friday and Saturday, April 4-5

Owl Banding with Ed Pike and Straits Area Audobon


Details
Location: Guest House
Time:  7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

 

We are excited to share that once again professional birder Ed Pike, licensed bird bander, will conduct research on migrating saw-whet owls at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park Friday and Saturday, April 4th and 5th, 2014.

On Friday, April 4, Ed invites the Straits Area Audobon Society to observe and participate in his activities, and on April 5, the invitation is extended to the general public. Though the event is free and open to the public, space is limited and reservations are required. 

To study the little-known saw-whet owl ~ strictly nocturnal creatures that depend on plumage for camouflage during the day and deep darkness for mating, migration and predation by night ~ Ed Pike uses mist nets, which he casts into the thickly forested area near the Headlands Guest House. Then, while waiting for the catch, Headlands International Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams leads participants through the wonders of the night sky. This is an exceptional program for experiencing what's happening in our nighttime habitats -- and why protecting natural darkness matters so much.


NOTE: Because we are dealing with a sensitive nighttime habitat, space will be limited and reservations are required. To make reservations, call (231) 348-1713.

 

From the AUDUBON NEWSLETTER:

On Friday, April 4, SAAS will hold the fifth annual owl banding demonstration at the Guest House at the Headlands Park near Mackinaw City. It starts at 6:30 pm with a potluck dinner; please bring a dish to pass and your own drink and table service. Afterward, we will help Ed Pike set up mist nests and an owl calling station on-site. Ed targets saw-whet owls, with boreal and long-eared owls also possible. The first net check will be about 30 minutes after sunset. Any captured owls will be measured, aged, sexed, banded, photographed, and released. Ed will demonstrate techniques that biologists use to learn more about these nocturnal hunters and describe his findings during 20 years of banding 2,000 owls of eight species.

In between checking the nets, Mary Stewart Adams, program director of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park will teach us about the heavens either inside, or outdoors if weather permits. Stay as late as you like. The Emmet County Headlands Park is located just west of Mackinaw City. From the entrance, follow the signs to the Guest House. This trip is co-sponsored by the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

March

 

Saturday, March 1

'The Tech Lover's Guide to the Night Sky'

Details
Location: Guest House
Time: 6 to 8 p.m.

Rain, snow or shine!

Stargazing is one of the most enduring activities known to man, practiced continually since ancient times, and not just for pleasure but as a way for humanity to understand its place in the grand celestial scheme. Given the persistent belief through the millenia that the mysteries of our life on Earth can be answered by knowing more about our celestial environment, it is astonishing to consider that it's only been during the last 400 years that man has been using telescopes and technology to foster this research.

At the Headlands International Dark Sky Park on Saturday, March 1, from 6 to 8 pm we will host the program: "The Tech Lover's Guide to the Night Sky," to learn about and marvel at the technology now available for anyone who's interested in reaching into the stars that way. Special guests include area amateur astronomers Rod Cortright, Aaron Reider and Robert Dudd, each with their own technology of special interest.

"Astronomy is exciting as a science because it is one of the few practices where amateurs contribute so much to the research and discovery," said Mary Stewart Adams, Program Director for the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. "So it's great that we have local experts that can guide all levels of interest and ability in choosing telescopes, filters, binoculars, cameras, and more."

The program will be held at the Guest House from 6 to 8 pm, and while this is intended to be an indoor program for hands-on experience with the equipment, if the skies are clear we will certainly step outside and take advantage of the view.

"We will be just past New Moon phase when we gather Saturday night, so the opportunity for deep dark is there," said Adams. "And Jupiter continues to dazzle brilliantly from its place among the stars of the Gemini Twins, just above Orion the Hunter and our brightest star, Sirius. Even without the aid of telescopes or binoculars these are spectacular sights, but with the technology available, we may get a peak at the area in Ursa Major where the supernova recently exploded, or even the Moons of Jupiter, which Galieo discovered and thereby ushered in the age of space technology."

For more information about the program or with questions, contact Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

(Sunset is 6:24 pm, followed by moonset at 7:17 pm)

 

January

SATURDAY, JAN. 4

‘Beyond the Telescope: The Storyteller’s Guide to the Night Sky’ 
 

Details
Location: Guest House at the Headlands
Time: 5-7 p.m. (sunset is 5:07 p.m.)

The Headlands International Dark Sky Park is pleased to present Native American storyteller Joe Mitchell for the program "Beyond the Telescope: The Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky", Saturday, Jan. 4 from 5 to 7 pm at the Headlands Guest House.

"The time for storytelling comes when the snow is on the ground," says Mitchell, revealing the participatory ways of indigenous people and how they have lived, historically, according to the principle of "to everything, there is a season."

Mitchell joins Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams for the event, which will include a preview of celestial highlights coming our way in 2014. "Every year brings a new set of phenomena and events which, if you're a storyteller, makes each new cycle very exciting. As a storyteller, what I like to look for are any significant elements that might expose the stuff of myth or legend, or even historical coincidence. And to engage in this research and discovery while also hearing the tales from the native traditions is really a treat."

Sunset will occur at 5:07 pm on the 4th, and the program is designed to occur during that “special time between sunset and starshine, to celebrate the joy of anticipation that comes with the New Year. Venus, in the last few days as our evening star, will be brilliant near the waxing crescent Moon, setting a beautiful stage for the gathering,” Adams added.

Questions? Call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

Reservations are not required.

February

 

Saturday, February 8

'Field Trip to the Moon, Part I'

Details
Location: Guest House at the Headlands
Time: 6 to 8 p.m.

The name February is rooted in the Latin word "februum" which means 'purification,' an association that derives from several things that occur during our second month, including: the Roman festival of Februa; cross quarter day, the half-way point between Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox, which is variously known as Groundhog Day, Candlemas, and  Imbolc; the ancient observation of the lesser mysteries, which required abstinence as preparation for feats of endurance; and traditional observances of the Lenten season of prayer and fasting.

 

February is unique as the only 'adjustable month' in our calendar, meaning its days are occasionally increased in order to keep the overall calendar in line with the ever-changing rhythm of the cosmos.

 

This year February holds another unique feature:
The Moon will not come to New Phase at any time during the month.

 

"Most people are accustomed to hearing about two Full Moons in one calendar month, but it is much less frequent to hear about no New Moon in a month, and in fact, such a phenomena can only occur in February," said Mary Stewart Adams, Program Director for the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. "This can happen because the rhythm used to determine new phase, technically referred to as the 'synodic period' is 29.5 days. When New Moon falls at the end of January, as it does this year, then 29.5 days later, at next New Moon phase, we've moved all the way through the 28 days of February to arrive at March 1st."

 

To further explain and celebrate this phenomena, Adams will present the program "Field Trip to the Moon," the first of a two-part series addressing the science, myth and mysteries of the Moon.

"During part I of this program, we will focus on the latest in lunar science and discovery including current missions, contemporary theories regarding the Moon's origin, and we will enjoy telescopic views of our nearest companion. Part II of the program will occur in April, when we have the first Total Lunar Eclipse visible in North American since 2011," Adams said.

The program is timed to allow views of sunset from the Headlands, which is at 5:45 pm this evening, followed by structured program from 6 to 8 pm at the Headlands Guest House. Programs are always free, are participatory in nature, include give-aways and refreshments, and offer a unique perspective on the starry skies over Emmet County. They take place rain, snow or starshine!