Programs & Events
Dark Sky Park Program Coordinator
Welcome to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park! The grounds, trails, and viewing areas at Headlands are open 24 hours a day, every day. Visitors are welcome to stay out through the night for dark-sky viewing opportunities, but camping is not permitted. Units like tents and campers are not allowed in the park. The Headlands is not intended as an overnight sleeping destination but instead is designed as a place to stay awake and view the stars. You may bring blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, food, beverages, etc. When packing, keep in mind that temperatures are typically 10 degrees lower than expected due to our proximity to the lake shore.
To protect the darkness of the park, please use red-filtered flashlights during your visit to the Headlands. Learn more here.
Our programs take place rain or shine, and no reservations are required unless otherwise noted.
Please save some time during your visit to stop by our “Out of This World” Gift Shop!
The Observatory is limited to park staff and researchers. Visuals when the Observatory is open are projected onto the big screen monitors on the main level. Professional star-gazers and astronomers are available on site to enhance your viewing experience during scheduled observing nights.
While the grounds, trails, viewing areas and restrooms at Headlands are always open and freely accessible, the Waterfront Event Center is only open to the public during scheduled programming and gift shop hours. The Waterfront Event Center at the Headlands is available for private rental.
To stay up-to-date on news and events at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, register for email blasts by contacting email@example.com and be sure to follow our Facebook page for more news and photos.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
At Winter Solstice, the Sun achieves its position furthest south of the celestial equator, and here in the north, we enter the dark stillness of the snowy season. For this afternoon’s event, we will gather inside to engage the quiet dark and stillness with candlelight and rhythm, by handrolling beeswax candles, then drumming to the sacred rhythm of the season with Northern Michigan Drum Village. Sunset on this, the year’s shortest day, will happen at 4:57 pm, so there will be plenty of time for touring the solstice evening sky outdoors as well. $5 at the door (for supplies); we will have drums on hand, and you are encouraged to bring your own, if you have one! This event is sponsored by DTE Foundation.
Stars fall, aurorial curtains wave, planets meet, and the Moon sweeps by. In every year, the majesty of the sky takes on a new visage, always moving and changing, always telling new stories and revealing new mysteries!
Join us Saturday, January 27, to prepare your calendar for all the celestial events we’re keeping an eye on this year.
OF NOTE: First 25 guests will receive a copy of the official IDA calendar for 2018.
For more information, please call us at 231-427-1001 or email email@example.com
$5 at the door
If you thought a Blue Moon was rare, try a combination of Blue Moon, Super Moon, and eclipsed Moon all in one! On Wednesday morning, January 31st, just such a phenomena will come to pass, as the perigee Moon arrives at Full Phase for the second time this month, just as it sweeps into the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow. At Headlands, the Moon will appear over the frozen Lake Michigan to the west, and the eclipse will begin at 5:45 am with what looks like a shadowy edge moving over the bright face of the Full Moon. “An eclipsed Moon doesn’t just disappear from view, it doesn’t even appear black. It actually looks reddish brown,” said Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams. “The whole process, from start to finish, takes several hours, and the Moon will actually set into the lake as it is reaching maximum eclipse. It’s an exciting phenomena to witness!”
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be watched with the naked eye, and through telescopes, and they can be seen over a much larger geographic area than solar eclipses. At Headlands, guests will hear tales of eclipse lore through history, have a chance to sketch their experience, and peek through one of several telescopes. “The program is designed to be open house style, since this phenomena is occurring in the early morning, mid-week,” said Adams. “We’ll provide naked eye and telescopic views, sketching materials, and light refreshments. We will also provide live streaming of the eclipse on our YouTube Channel, as it appears through our telescopes.”
The Headlands program is from 5:30 to 8:30 am. Eclipse times are as follows:
5:51 a.m. penumbral eclipse begins; Moon will be over the western horizon
6:48 a.m. partial phase of eclipse begins
7:51 a.m. total lunar eclipse begins (Moon appears reddish brown)
7:56 a.m. will be maximum eclipse visibility at Headlands
8:01 a.m. 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 a.m. maximum eclipse occurs below the horizon for us
9:07 a.m. total eclipse completes
10:11 a.m. partial eclipse ends
11:08 a.m. penumbral eclipse ends
In the event of inclement weather, Headlands astronomy tech staff will live stream the eclipse from other locations. Event is $5, at the door. No reservations are necessary. For more information, please call 231-427-1001.
Photo of Moon by Todd Vorenkamp trvphoto.com
There’s no Full Moon in February, 2018 and with the traditions of Carnival in full swing (also known as Mardi Gras) and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we can’t think of a better reason to strike up the band and dance away the winter blues! Join us at the Headlands Waterfront Event Center with live music from the Jon Archambault Band, and in the tradition of the season, wear your best mask for dancing away the mischief!
Cost is $10.00.
Limited preferred parking available: $10
Info at :(231) 427-1001