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Stargazing this summer? Try a Michigan state park

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Ask people what they enjoy about Michigan state parks in the hotter months, and many will talk about lazy days at the beach, fun family reunions and time spent exploring trails and forests.

There’s another aspect of a state park trip that could make your visit even more memorable: night sky viewing.

“If you live in a big city or immediate suburb, it’s nearly impossible to get a good look at the night sky. There’s just too much competing light, but if you go into one of our state parks, the view changes dramatically,” said Ami Van Antwerp, a DNR communications specialist.

A big draw is the annual Perseid meteor shower, peaking this year Aug. 9-13. Several state parks – not just those in the Upper Peninsula or northern Lower Peninsula – will stay open late for “Meteors & S’mores” programs (with complimentary s’mores around the campfire) to mark the occasion, but every park offers great opportunities to camp under the stars.

According to Space.com, air pollution has made Earth’s atmosphere less transparent and more reflective, and an increase in light on the ground has created “a bright background light resembling a perpetual twilight” that makes it tough to see stars.

That’s where state parks – 103 locations from Detroit to Ontonagon, offering more than 352,000 acres of public land – can really steal the show.

“When you’re in a state park at night, definitely look up!” said Van Antwerp. “My family was at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park last summer around the same time as the meteor showers. Every night felt like our own private light show, whenever we stepped outside the tent.”

No special equipment is needed to view these meteor showers. The Perseids are among the brightest showers of the year and can easily be seen with the naked eye.

Designated viewing areas and times are specified at each park. Event dates are available at michigan.gov/darksky. Make camping reservations at midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS.

Questions? Contact Elissa Buck at 989-313-0000.