Programs & Events

The Headlands is open 24 hours a day, every day, at no charge. There is no camping allowed. Programs take place rain or shine! Visitors are welcomed to stay out through the night for dark-sky viewing opportunities (camping units like tents and campers are not permitted; the Headlands is not intended as an overnight sleeping destination but a place to stay awake and view the stars!). You may bring blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, food, beverages, etc. Plan accordingly and dress for temperatures 10 degrees below what you expect.

Please use red-filtered flashlights only during your visit to the Headlands. Learn more here

2017 PROGRAM BROCHURE

Of special note for 2017 …

  • Construction of the Waterfront Event Center and observatory continues through June 2017. Since Headlands remains open during construction, this portion of the property is closed
    to public access, and parking is limited to the entrance. The viewing area is one mile from the parking area and guests must be prepared to walk this one mile in and out. CONSTRUCTION UPDATES
  •  Programs take place rain or shine and no reservations are required unless otherwise noted.
  • NEW IN 2017: Several programs in 2017 require a ticket, as indicated by the $ sign. Fees will vary. Admission into the park is free.
  •  Register for email blasts about programs by contacting  darksky@emmetcounty.org or (231) 348-1713.

 

Apr
7
Fri
Statewide Astronomy Night
Apr 7 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
The Observatory Tower at Headlands features an Ash Dome and 20" PlaneWave Telescope on sneak preview during Statewide Astronomy Night April 7, 2017

The Observatory Tower at Headlands features an Ash Dome and 20″ PlaneWave Telescope that will be on sneak preview during Statewide Astronomy Night April 7, 2017

Tonight, Headlands partners with Michigan State University and organizations around the Great Lakes State to celebrate Statewide Astronomy Night (SWAN) at our observatory facility, where we will preview our new Roger McCormick 20″ PlaneWave telescope for peering deeply into the sky. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own telescopes, and questions for our experts about how to use them, which to buy, what to see, and more!
Apr
21
Fri
Celebrate International Dark Sky Week at Michigan’s International Dark Sky Park @ Waterfront Event Center
Apr 21 @ 8:00 pm – Apr 28 @ 10:00 pm
Celebrate International Dark Sky Week at Michigan's International Dark Sky Park @ Waterfront Event Center

Every year during the April New Moon, people around the world join in a celebration of dark skies, and at Headlands there will opportunities for experiencing the stars with story, song, telescopes, and exceptional views. Because of the Moon phase, this year’s Dark Sky Week also coincides with the peak of the Lyrid Meteor Shower, a wonderful stream of falling stars from the Comet C/1861G radiant near the border between the constellations Lyra, the harp, and Hercules, the mighty hero. Of all recorded meteor showers, this one has the longest recorded history, even though its peak is of narrow duration. Catch the peak of the shower at the opening program for International Dark Sky Week on Friday, April 21st, or join us for crescent Moon setting into the lake at the close of Dark Sky Week on Friday, April 28th.

May
6
Sat
Photographing the night sky @ Waterfront Event Center
May 6 @ 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Photographer John Hill has mastered the magic of catching the stars that shine over Headlands as seen in this image from June 2016

Photographer John Hill has mastered the magic of catching the stars that shine over Headlands as seen in this image from June 2016

It’s the season of the Headlands anniversary as the world’s 9th International Dark Sky Park, and we’re inviting you to join us for an exceptional evening of learning how to photograph the night sky ~ from those in the know, featuring the talented John Hill, who’s been capturing the starry skies over Headlands in rare style! Reservations will be required by calling (231) 348-1713. More details on this event are forthcoming, including the cost of the event.

May
20
Sat
Preparing for the Great American Eclipse @ Waterfront Event Center
May 20 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
The Great American Eclipse, as rendered by Tyler Nordgren, artist astronomer extraordinaire

The Great American Eclipse, as rendered by Tyler Nordgren, artist, author,  and astronomer extraordinaire

Join us at our new Headlands Waterfont Center and Observatory for a virtual interview with Tyler Nordgren, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Redlands, in anticipation of what is already being predicted to be the most-watched celestial phenomena in history ~the Great American Eclipse of August, 2017. Dr. Nordgren has recently published the book “Sun, Moon and Earth ~ The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets”, in anticipation of the Total Solar Eclipse, and we are thrilled to offer audiences this opportunity to hear him speak, and to ask questions of one of the premier researchers of the stars in our region of the world!

While earning his PhD in astronomy at Cornell University, Dr. Nordgren has used modern observatories around the world as part of his research. Dr. Nordgren has written peer-reviewed articles on subjects ranging from dark matter in galaxies to the pulsation of stars that are the foundation of our understanding of the size and age of the Universe.  In 2004, NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed on Mars carrying sundials, or “Marsdials” on board which Dr. Nordgren helped design with a team of seven other scientists and artists (a third Marsdial was included on the Curiosity Rover). Since 2005, he has worked with the U.S. National Park Service to promote astronomy education in U.S. national parks where the public still has a chance to see a natural nocturnal landscape that includes an unobstructed view of the Universe beyond our own atmosphere. Dr. Nordgren has helped document this vanishing landscape with award-winning night sky photography that has been on display in galleries from New York City to Flagstaff, Arizona and is on display in a number of national parks. In addition, Dr. Nordgren has also developed a popular poster campaign in conjunction with the National Park Service to “See the Milky Way” in America’s parks where “Half the park is after dark.” Dr. Nordgren now regularly tours the national parks giving talks to visitors and rangers alike educating both on the beauty of the night sky and how our national parks open a window on the Universe beyond.

Note: This event is designed to raise awareness about the eclipse, which will bisect the United States from the Pacific northwest to the Atlantic southeast on August 21, 2017. To view the total eclipsing of the Sun, observers must be directly in the path of the of the eclipse shadow. From Headlands, the Moon will appear to only partially eclipse the Sun on August 21, 2017.

Sun, Moon, Earth ~ The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets, by Tyler Nordgren

Sun, Moon, Earth ~ The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets, by Tyler Nordgren

 

Jun
22
Thu
GRAND OPENING OF THE WATERFRONT EVENT CENTER @ Waterfront Event Center
Jun 22 all-day
GRAND OPENING OF THE WATERFRONT EVENT CENTER @ Waterfront Event Center

Time TBA

Celebrate the influence of the stars in the cultural life of humanity and the natural wonders of Emmet County at the grand of opening the Waterftont Event Center and Observatory, with music, fine art, great food, and special guests!

Jul
1
Sat
Nature’s Fireworks with the Sky Giants Saturn and Jupiter @ Waterfront Event Center
Jul 1 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Nature's Fireworks with the Sky Giants Saturn and Jupiter @ Waterfront Event Center

It’s a weekend full of fireworks across the land, and up in the sky the giant planets are also putting on a show: The Roman gods Saturn and Jupiter were known to the Ancient Greeks as Cronus and Zeus, a father and son with a dynamic fate that lends itself to celebrating a summer weekend of fireworks. Tonight, visitors can peek through the Roger McCormick 20″ PlaneWave Telescope in the Observatory Tower out into the planetary system to get optimal views of the Saturn giant and his Olympian son Jupiter. These two come together in conjunction only every 20 years (the next will be in 2020), creating a triangle form that precesses through the sky throughout history. Tonight we’ll prepare for the coming conjunction by learning about the connections between Saturn and Jupiter in mythology, their influence on the world of astronomy, and more!

 

Jul
28
Fri
Making Wishes on the Lucky Stars of the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower @ Waterfront Event Center
Jul 28 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Making Wishes on the Lucky Stars of the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower @ Waterfront Event Center

The waxing crescent Moon sets a romantic stage for this beautiful Summer shower of falling stars; come early for the program, then stay late for making wishes! The Moon will set at midnight, leaving in its wake the greater part of the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower activity, which usually peaks around 2 a.m. Don’t be fooled, the Delta Aquarid Meteors can be sparse, but they leave a persistent train and they move slowly, because of their sideways angle of approach through Earth’s atmosphere. 

Aug
11
Fri
Perseid Meteor Shower and Lights Out Challenge @ Waterfront Event Center
Aug 11 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm

9 to 11 p.m. Waterfront Event Center for Perseid Meteor Shower program

Look for annual Lights Out Challenge information coming soon!

 

Aug
21
Mon
The Great American Solar Eclipse @ Waterfront Event Center
Aug 21 @ 2:00 pm

If you aren’t able to get into the path of totality for the biggest celestial event of the year, you can view part of it through the solar telescope at Headlands but PLEASE NOTE: Only a partial eclipse will be visible from Headlands.

Sep
23
Sat
Autumn Equinox in Northern Michigan @ Waterfront Event Center
Sep 23 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

The balance has been struck and at tonight’s program we will follow Sun and Moon across the western horizon into the story and wonder of the growing dark