Programs & Events
The grounds, trails, and viewing areas at Headlands are 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
A special celebratory note for 2017 …
- Construction of the Waterfront Event Center and Observatory at Headlands was completed in June 2017. While the grounds, trails, viewing areas and restrooms are Headlands are always open and freely accessible, the Waterfront Event Center and Observatory are open to the public during scheduled programming only. The Waterfront Event Center is available for private rental (click on the “ABOUT” tab on this website for more information); the Observatory is not available for private rental.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (231) 348-1713.
Every year in October, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park dares visitors to take a one-mile walk through the woods along our candlelit path to the shoreline, where mischief and storytelling await, no matter the wind and weather. This year the October 21st event marks the 9th annual challenge, and participants are encouraged to commit to this year’s Egyptian theme, chosen because of the peak of the Orionid Meteor Shower the same night.
“The Headlands challenge was the very first ‘dark sky’ event we ever held at the Headlands. We started it in 2009, two years before we received our international dark sky designation. It was planned to coincide with the worldwide astronomy movement to get people outside viewing the sky in honor of the 400th anniversary of Galileo being the first person to use a telescope,” said Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams. “But this year, it’s all about Egypt, because there is evidence that the Egyptians linked the constellation Orion to their sacred god of the dead, Osiris, and the meteor shower that comes from the Orion region of the sky will come to its peak on October 21st, the night of our event. It sets a terrific seasonal mood.”
The Headlands Challenge is part of the “Triple Fright Night” events taking place October 21st in the northwest region of Emmet County, and which include trick-or-treating at Heritage Village from 6 to 8 pm, the Headlands Challenge from 8 to 10 pm and the haunted McGulpin Point Lighthouse until 11 pm. Take in one, two, or all three events, which include games, treats, seasonal decoration, storytelling, stargazing, and the meteor shower.
“October skies can be dramatic, what with the high winds and clouds, and the thickest part of the Milky Way setting to make way for the deeper dark of the less populated star fields of the Orion region,” said Adams. “It’s just the perfect time of year to challenge yourself to be outside and brave the elements.”
The Headlands Challenge and Triple Fright Night are free events, family friendly, and open to the public. Events happen rain, sleet, snow, or shine. Participants can park at Heritage Village and trick-or-treat, then cross the street and walk the one-mile candlelit path to the Headlands Waterfront Event center for games and storytelling at 9 pm. The haunted McGulpin Point Lighthouse will remain open until 11 pm, and can be accessed from Heritage Village by free shuttle.
For event information and details, please call the Headlands International Dark Sky Park Office at 231-427-1001. You may also email at email@example.com
The Lion shakes out his starry mane overnight Friday the 17th to Saturday the 18th, so we will gather early for our program and then guests can stay late under the dark phase of the Moon to count the Lion’s falling stars. Tonight we will also learn the basics of celestial navigation, or how to find or way by starlight! Stay tuned for more details o this aspect of our November program at the Waterfront Event Center and Observatory!
Eclipse seasons happen twice a year, every year, and for 2018, they straddle the months of January/February, and July/August. This evening, Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams will share information and images about the coming Total Lunar Eclipse, the paths of visibility for this year’s eclipses, cultural beliefs regarding eclipses, including what it means when Lunar Eclipses precede Solar Eclipses (as they do this year) and how to get the most out of your viewing experience. Lunar Science, a Looney Tunes Quiz game and more! Stay tuned here for more information as the date draws near.
The January 31st Total Lunar Eclipse will be visible in North America, beginning at 5:51 am as viewed from Headlands, with Full Moon hanging heavy and low over Lake Michigan. Join us for fascinating views of the Moon passing through Earth’s shadow as it plunges into the lake! NOTE: Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be watched with the naked eye, and through telescopes.
Eclipse times are as follows:
5:51 am penumbral eclipse begins; Moon will be over the western horizon
6:48 am partial phase of eclipse begins
7:51 am total lunar eclipse begins (Moon appears reddish brown)
7:56 am will be maximum eclipse visibility at Headlands
8:01 am Moon will set into Lake Michigan and beyond view for us at Headlands, though eclipse endures; the Sun will be rising in the east at the same dynamic moment!
8:29 am maximum eclipse occurs below the horizon for us
9:07 am total eclipse completes
10:11 am partial eclipse ends
11:08 am penumbral eclipse ends
More program details will be posted soon, but mark your calendars now. This is an early morning, midweek event, with Full Moon setting into Earth’s shadow and Lake Michigan in the west, as Sun is rising in the East.