Northern Michigan Attractions: International Dark Sky Park

Northern Michigan Attractions: It’s official: a  600-acre stretch of land north of Petoskey, in Emmet County, called "The Headlands" has just been designated an International Dark Sky Park. It’s the only one in Michigan. There are only five others in the U.S. and nine others in the entire world.

The area, which hugs the shore of Lake Michigan near Mackinaw City, has something very special: a clear, unaltered view of the night sky. It took four years of hard work and a laborious application process to get the designation. Experts had to measure the amount of light in the area, as well as any light fixtures on and near the property that could interfere with the view of the stars. The International Dark Sky Park Association, based in Tuscon, Arizona, made its decision official on Monday, May 9th.

Mary Stewart Adams, a star lore expert who lives in Harbor Springs, is on the Dark Sky Park Committee In Northern Michigan. She says , "It’s not just about coming to that geographic location. It’s that we are being intentional about protecting the night sky. That raises the awareness level in this community."

The park will be used to view the Northern Lights, meteor showers, lunar eclipses, and to learn about constellations and hear stories about the stars. There’s also a large house on the property which people can rent to stay overnight and for special events.  James Tamlyn, Chairman of the Emmet County Board of Commissioners, says, "The Headlands, with it’s two and a half miles of shoreline and 600 acres of old-growth timber, is a beautiful place that will be protected forever. Add to that the ability to have uninterrupted night-time viewing.  and it continues that experience – and that’s what the Headlands is all about. It’s protected now, and as time goes by, nothing’s going to change that."

A celebration of the International Dark Sky Park will take place at the Headlands in Emmet County on June 21st.For more information, go to emmetcounty.org.

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