Programs & Events

Dark Sky Park Program Coordinator
Call 231.427.1001

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 and be sure to follow our Facebook page for more news and photos.

Free Guided Observing – Mercury Transit across the Sun
Nov 11 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am

On Monday, Nov. 11, we’ll observe Mercury transit across the sun from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The peak transit time is around 10:20 a.m. The next time Mercury will transit the sun is 2032. What makes this particular transit special is that Mercury will pass almost directly through the center of the sun. The last time it was as close as it is supposed to be was 1973 and won’t be this close again until 2187. The only way to see this is with a properly filtered telescope, as it will be too small to see with just using solar eclipse glasses. The event may also be viewed as a NASA live stream event.

Rod Cortright of Northern Michigan Astronomy Club will be setting up a telescope with a solar filter on it for interested guests to view the transit and to answer questions. All observing dates are weather-permitting. (Check our Facebook page for the any updates about our observing dates.) Call (231) 427-1001 with any questions.

Cosmic Saturday – Leonid Meteor Shower @ The Headlands
Nov 16 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

For our Cosmic Series, we will gather with our friends from the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club who will inform and entertain us on various astronomy topics. Cost is $5 a person.

Winter Solstice – North Star Celebration @ The Headlands
Dec 22 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Celebrate the Solstice by bringing light and rhythm into the dark stillness of the season. Join us for a celebration of the season. Cost is $10 a person for the North Star Celebration. Guided observing will be part of the program. The Headlands staff will have some telescopes available on the outside viewing platform if conditions allow. Professional star gazers and astronomers will be on site to enhance your viewing experience with guidance and to answer questions. If you wish, bring your own binoculars or telescopes to see more. Other visitors to the park will be welcome to use the green space and other designated viewing areas, but will not have the option of guidance and assistance from our staff unless attending the program. Call (231) 427-1001 with any questions.