EMPIRE, ME. – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a synonym for sun drenched summer days, but a series of special "star parties" will soon take the visitor to the park's magic at night.
With stargazing, sunning, storytelling, and sometimes even meteor showers, Sleeping Bear Dune's star parties are imaginative astronomical gatherings that highlight the park's spectacular dark night sky and long stretch of coastline that provides uninterrupted celestial observation.
Each event has telescopes and information stations where visitors can watch stars, planets and space objects such as the Milky Way galaxy. Parkkeepers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society are also available to visitors to discover which resource of dark night sky in the world is ever less.
Star Party visitors are kindly asked to bring a flashlight and bug spray, as well as binoculars, beach chairs, and blankets. All Star Party events are free, but a visitor pass ($ 25 per vehicle, good for seven days) is required to enter the park.
The National Park Service recently released dates for this year's Star Parties, which last from April to April, and are held at various locations throughout the park. The Opening Party 201
May 25 (9: 00-11: 00) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Binary stars, lighter deep-sky objects.
8th June (16:00 – 18:00 and 9:00 – 11:00). Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Sun observation in the afternoon; later Moon, Mars and Jupiter.
6th July (16:00 to 18:00 and 9:00 to 11:00). Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Sun observation in the afternoon; at dusk, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn.
10th August (16:00 to 18:00 and 9:00 to 11:00). Location: Thoreson Farm. Highlights: Sun observation in the afternoon followed by Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and some brighter deep sky objects.
August 31 (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm to 11:00 am)) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Sun observation in the afternoon; Evening, Jupiter, Saturn, Summer Milky Way.
September 21 (9: 00-11: 00) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Jupiter, Saturn, Summer Milky Way.
October 21 (8: 00-10: 00 am) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 49th Anniversary Star Party. Saturn early; after dark, Pleiades, Northern Milky Way.
For more information on the Sleeping Bear Dunes events, visit the park's website.