Dark Sky Coast

Shawn venus photo headlands

As the Earth spins ’round on its axis and dips forward under the starry light, the configuration of stars overhead gradually changes. This means that every season, there’s a different group of stars on display!

Here are some highlights of what you’ll see in the starry skies over the Headlands, season by season …
In the Spring season, the mighty constellation Orion, the hunter, which is high in the southwest during March and April, begins its slow descent into the west by the time May unfolds with flowers across the landscape. Orion is not visible throughout the summer months in Northern Michigan, and stargazers have to wait until late August to catch glimpses of this star group mounting up in the east at dawn.

Throughout the summer, the richest part of the Milky Way spreads itself across the sky, where the constellations of the Scorpion and Sagittarius join hands across the horizon in the southwest when viewed from Headlands. Then, late summer nights give way to the meteor showers, shooting starlight across the sky while here in the Northern Hemisphere we make ready for the darkest time of year. Mid-August we enjoy the Perseids, followed in October by the Draconids and Orionids, then the Leonids in November, and the prolific Geminids in early December.

The year fulfills with the Ursid Meteor Shower, raining down from between the great bears, Ursa Major and Minor, two constellations that are always overhead in our region. The Moon waxes and wanes through the sky, now meeting planets, then stars, marking the path of the zodiac, the same path that the ‘wandering stars’ our planets, also follow. And the aurora! Statistically they are the most active around the times of Equinox in late March and September, but please note that these elusive curtains of color can grace the skies without warning, and are a beautiful sight in any season!