The Headlands International Dark Sky Park will host the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club’s annual Star Party beginning Friday, August 9. The event ends with the annual Lights Out community challenge to see which community can achieve the greatest darkness as the Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 11. The Lights Out Challenge is from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the Mackinac Bridge Authority will be participating this year by turning off the bridge cable lights.
The Lights Out challenge is a voluntary, friendly competition where St. Ignace and Mackinaw City turn lights down low. Visitors, residents, and business owners around the Little Traverse Bay can help the stars show off by putting the lights out. Light meter readings determine which community was the darkest. The Lights Out Challenge helps raise awareness about the effects of artificial light on nocturnal habitat, human health, and the way we use our energy resources.
During the three day Star Party, NOMA Club members will be on-site viewing the sky, answering questions and providing tips to help people learn how to improve their viewing pleasure.
In addition, there will be presentations each evening by a speaker of international acclaim.
- 8 p.m. August 9 – “Space Rocks! Meteorites from Antarctica to the Atacama and Places In Between” with Nicolle Zellner, PhD, Professor of Physics at Albion College
- 8 p.m. August 10 – David Levy, author and comet/asteroid hunter and discoverer will speak about his work
- 7 p.m. August 11 – Lori Rader-Day, a Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author, will discuss her newly published murder mystery, ‘Under A Dark Sky,’ set in The Headlands.
Additional details and biographical information may be found on The Headlands Facebook page, facebook.com/headlandsdarkskypark/
Following the Star Party is the last of the summer’s Crescent Moon Mondays on August 13. At 8:30 p.m., NOMAC’s Rod Cortright will make a presentation entitled, “Our Solar System is Really Weird.” Based on discoveries over the past fifteen years of extra-solar planets orbiting other stars, the size and location of planets in our solar system is very unusual. He will discuss new theories about how our solar system formed and how they differ from the past model.
There is a $5 per person admission charge for all of these events. In addition, there is a $10 charge for limited preferred parking during the Star Party from August 9 to 11.
The Headlands is the only internationally-designated dark sky park in Michigan. The 600-acre park sits on Lake Michigan’s Cecil Bay with 4-1/2 miles of non-motorized trails and 2-1/2 miles of lake frontage where over 80 shipwrecks lie nearby. Its location north of the 45th parallel affords exceptional views of the circumpolar constellations, Milky Way, Northern Lights and other celestial events.