5 more chances to star gaze at Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes this year

There are five more chances to go star gazing at Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes this year.

Here's the info from the National Parks Service:

Located far from sources of urban light pollution, visitors can take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities for both close up and panoramic views of the night sky in the National Lakeshore during the astronomy events held in the park. The 2019 monthly astronomy programs hosted by the National Lakeshore will run from April through October. Park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) will help you unravel some of the mysteries of the night sky as well as discover more about the daytime sky. 

Each event will have drop-in telescope and information stations for you to visit at your leisure. Be sure to stop by the ranger greeter table for more information about the stations and their locations. The dark sky in the park provides an excellent opportunity to observe deep space objects, like the Milky Way. For programs held at the Dune Climb, feel free to hike up the dunes during this event to conduct your own personal skywalk.

At the Dune Climb, please park in the row furthest from the dunes with your headlights facing M-109. Overflow parking, within easy walking distance to the Dune Climb, is in the Great Lakes Picnic Area. The picnic area entrance is located just south of the entrance to the Dune Climb. Follow the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail from the parking area to the Dune Climb. Volunteers will be assisting with parking at both locations.

All sky programs offered by the National Lakeshore are free. Participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. Programs will be cancelled if the sky is not visible due to weather conditions. The decision to cancel is usually made two hours in advance. Please call 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision. 

For all evening astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed. You are welcome to bring your own binoculars, beach chairs, and blankets for a more comfortable experience, and water is always recommended for National Park Service (NPS) programs. Park rangers and GTAS staff will wear red glow necklaces or bracelets at the events. For more information about the GTAS, go to http://www.gtastro.org/

There will be prospects for star-gazing, meteor showers, solar viewing, storytelling, and more. Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects. National parks enclose some of the last remaining harbors of darkness in America and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource firsthand. These events are also the perfect occasion to “Find Your Park” in the stars and share your adventures at FindYourPark.com. So visit the National Lakeshore and enjoy the following celestial summer events:

June 8 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Dune Climb
Highlights: Solar viewing afternoon, Moon, Mars, Jupiter late (twilight)

July 6 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Dune Climb
Highlights: Solar viewing afternoon, twilight, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn later

August 10 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Thoreson Farm
Highlights: Solar viewing afternoon, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, plus some brighter deep sky objects

August 31 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Dune Climb
Highlights: Solar viewing afternoon, Jupiter, Saturn, summer Milky Way

September 21 (9:00-11:00 p.m.) Dune Climb
Highlights: Jupiter, Saturn, summer Milky Way

October 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m.) Dune Climb
Highlights: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - 49th Anniversary Star Party. Saturn early, dark, Pleiades, northern Milky Way

For a listing of other programs, check the park’s event calendar at https://www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/calendar.htm. For more information about the GTAS, go to http://www.gtastro.org/. 

This event is the perfect opportunity to “Find Your Park” in the stars. Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the NPS protects. National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource.

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