Northern Michigan dark sky park to host free summer astronomy programs

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MACKINAW CITY, MICH. — Summer stargazing plans start now, as Headlands International Dark Sky Park has announced its lineup of astronomy programming for 2023.

The park will be offering free weekly educational programing from May to October. Additionally, a staff astronomer will be on-site to provide nightly observing, star tours, and assisted telescope viewing on all clear nights from June through September, as well as on weekends through October.

“There’s something for everyone in the line-up this year,” said Jamie Westfall, park manager. “We invite visitors of all ages to join us at one of our many presentations this summer, or bring a blanket and chairs any clear night; talk to an astronomer, look through a telescope, and enjoy a Pure Michigan evening under the stars.”

In 2011 the Headlands became the first place in Michigan to receive the prestigious International Dark Sky Park designation, awarded globally to spots that offer exceptional night-sky viewing as well as dark-sky protection and education measures.

The park is free and open 24/7 for stargazers. Flashlights, cell phones, or any other white light emitting devices are not permitted in the viewing area.

Note that parking is limited; park officials advise that visitors arrive in time to enjoy sunset for a better opportunity to secure a parking spot. Overflow parking is available outside of the park, but it is a one-mile walk from the viewing area. Headlamps and flashlights are necessary for the entrance into the park, but once the vehicle is parked, all white lights should be stowed as a courtesy for everyone in the viewing area.

Programming Schedule

All programs are free of charge. For event details visit or follow the park on Facebook at

WED. MAY 17 AT 8:30 PM: History of the Universe: From the Big Bang to Recent History

WED. MAY 24 AT 8:30 PM: The Effects of Light Pollution on the Ecosystem

WED. MAY 31 AT 8:30 PM: James Webb Space Telescope Mission Update

THURS. JUNE 8 AT 8 PM: Comets, Broom Stars of the Night Sky with Kevin Dehne

THURS. JUNE 15 AT 8 PM – 9 PM: Northern Lights and Spectroscopy with Aurelian Balan

WED. JUNE 21 AT 8:30 PM: Introduction to Binocular Astronomy

WED. JUNE 28 AT 8 PM: Dark Sky, Fireworks and Special Effects Photography at Night with Wayne Pope

MON. JULY 3 AT 8:30 PM: Telescope Tune-Up Workshop

WED. JULY 12 AT 8 PM: Introduction to Astronomy with Angie Morthland

WED. JULY 19 AT 8 PM: Totality! Solar Eclipse 2024 with Kevin Dehne

THURS. JULY 27 AT 8 PM – 9 PM: Explore Michigan, Explore Astronomy with Norbert Vance

WED. AUGUST 9 AT 8:30 PM: Why Do We Have Meteor Showers?

WED. AUGUST 9 AT 10 PM: Headlands’ Lights Out Challenge

TUES. AUGUST 15 AT 8 PM: How Cold is Outer Space? With Kevin Dehne

WED. AUGUST 16 AT 8 PM: Basics of Astrophotography with Robert Parrish

THURS. AUGUST 31 AT 8:30 PM: Explorations to Mars

WED. SEPTEMBER 13 AT 8:30 PM: Juno – Mission to Mars


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