Northern Michigan Outdoors: Star Gaze at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Northern Michigan Outdoors: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be offering a series of monthly astronomy programs this year. Join Park Rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) for a guided exploration of our night sky and one daytime event. The next Star Party is May 11 with a viewing of the closest star—the sun. Each special event takes place at a different location throughout the National Lakeshore to take advantage of strategic viewing opportunities. Come for star gazing, meteor showers, sun viewing, and storytelling. Kids of all ages can participate in the Night Sky Junior Ranger program.

Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects. National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource. So visit the National Lakeshore and enjoy park skies by attending the following Star Parties:

May 11 (12:00-2:00 p.m.), Visitor Center Parking Lot in Empire This is a daytime Star Party to view our closest star – the sun.  View the sun using a solar telescope and solar shades.  See solar activity, including flares and prominences.?

June 8 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive #3 Overlook View Saturn, the Milky Way, and various constellations. Meet at the Dune Overlook #3, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  Please park at Picnic Mountain; the next right after the #2 stop.

?July 13 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Platte River Point View the moon, Saturn, and various constellations.

August 10 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Thoreson Farm in Port Oneida The Port Oneida Fair celebration continues into the night.  View Saturn and the Perseid meteors.

?September 7 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Dune Climb Parking Lot View the summer Milky Way and many Deep Sky Objects.

?October 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m.), Dune Climb Parking Lot Celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with a starry event.

For all astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed. Park Rangers and GTAS staff will be wearing red glow bracelets at the events. 

The monthly Star Parties will be cancelled during inclement weather. The decision is usually made three hours in advance. Please call Park Rangers at 231-326-5135, ext. 331, for a voicemail message with the decision.

All programs are free. Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. For more information about the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, go to gtastro.org.

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Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    Is there a map of how to get to these locations? I am very interested in going to the events, but I have no clue how to get to each destination.