Headlands celebrates Grand Opening of the Waterfront Event Center and Observatory

Local photographer Steve Vorpagel captured the standing-room-only crowd as they awaited the guest speakers

Cloudy skies couldn’t diminish the enthusiasm for our Grand Opening on June 22nd, where standing-room-only crowds took in an array of guest speakers that included: Emmet County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie MacInnis; Frank Ettawageshik, Executive Director of the United Tribes of Michigan; Dave DeBruyn of the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomy Association; Tamara Jorkasky, Grant Coordinator for Michigan DNR; and Headlands International Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams; with video greetings from Lt Governor Brian Calley and US Senator Gary Peters; and more. The afternoon celebration included the dedication of our telescopes, the Roger McCormick 20″ Planewave and the Baiardi Family Lundt Solar Telescope, led by Emmet County Commissioners Vice Chair Jonathan Scheel, and a ribbon cutting hosted by the Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce. The ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted by the grandchildren of the late Lyn Johnson (1948-2014), Emmet County Controller for 30 years, through whom Johnson’s adage that “the only limits are those of your own imagination” was much in evidence. 

The Waterfront Event Center at Headlands is available as a rental facility. Information and rates can be found by clicking this link.

The Observatory at the Headlands will host three telescopes: the Roger McCormick PlaneWave for deep space imaging; the Baiarda Family Foundation Solar Telescope for viewing the Sun; and a 6″ Takahashi for looking into our own planetary system. Telescope mounts are being completed, and the Observatory Public Viewing Schedule will be open soon.

The grounds around the new facility are free and open to the public, and the undeveloped shoreline viewing area still remains open for public viewing. 

There are 24/hr ADA restrooms at the base of the Observatory Tower, and handicap parking is available in the main lot near the Waterfront Event Center. Please note that once the main lot is full, guests to the Headlands will park at the entrance and walk one mile to the shoreline and facility observing areas.

A drone’s eye view of the Headlands Waterfront Event Center and Observatory with shoreline amphitheater seating, sidewalks, and parking

For local news reports about the event, click here

For Lt Governor Brian Calley’s video greeting, click here.