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.

Leonid Meteor Shower @ Waterfront Event Center
Nov 17 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
On its path through our planetary system, Comet Temple-Tuttle leaves its trail of stars in the region of the Lion

On its path through our planetary system, Comet Temple-Tuttle leaves its trail of stars in the region of the Lion

One of history’s most prolific meteor showers, the Leonids, comes to its peak this weekend, November 17-18, 2017, and Headlands will offer an evening program indoors and a night hike outdoors to set the stage. The Leonid Meteor Shower Program will happen on Friday, November 17, from 8 to 10 pm at the Waterfront Event Center and Observatory. The program is free, and participants can park in the main lot near the event center. 
The Leonid Meteor Shower is caused by the trail of stuff left in the wake of the Comet Tempel-Tuttle as it speeds through our planetary system. Known as a periodic comet, Tempel-Tuttle was discovered in 1865, the same year that the American Civil War ended, and that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. In 1833 the Leonids produced such a storm of meteors that people across North America thought it was a portent of the end of times. Instead, it marked the beginning of “meteor shower science”, which led astronomers to understand that meteor showers, though named for the constellation in front of which their radiant appears, are actually caused by comets.
“Comet Temple-Tuttle has an orbital periodicity of 33 years, and won’t be seen again in our planetary system until 2031, but its meteor shower happens every year, and coincides with the time of year when many cultures celebrate a tradition of carrying lanterns out into the night, to stave of the early darkness of the season and the coming cold temperatures. I love to think of it as the Lion shaking out his starry mane. The Lion is often associated with courage and compassion and leadership,” said Headlands program Director Mary Stewart Adams.
The Leonids will not be diminished by moonlight this year, since New Phase coincides nearly with the peak of the shower, which is after midnight. “Our program is really about preparing for the shower with observing the Leonid sky, hearing the stories of this shower, learning the the science,” said Adams.
Winter Solstice at the Waterfront Event Center
Dec 21 @ 4:00 pm

Program Director Mary Stewart Adams captured the play of snow settling in the quiet woods at Solstice time

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.

Observatory Open
Jan 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Prepare for the Celestial Highlights of 2018, including next week’s Total Lunar Eclipse
Jan 27 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

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

$5 at the door

Observatory Open
Jan 27 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Catch the Total Lunar Eclipse as it sets into Lake Michigan west of Headlands
Jan 31 @ 5:30 am – 8:30 am
Catch the Total Lunar Eclipse as it sets into Lake Michigan west of Headlands

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

Observatory Open
Jan 31 @ 6:30 am – 8:30 am
Snowshoe Hike
Feb 3 @ 2:00 pm
Snowshoe Hike

There are five miles of hiking trails at Headlands~to explore by day! And today we will lead you on a scenic snowshoe hike along our favorites. Limited supply of snowshoes available, so guests are encouraged to bring their own, or be prepared to hike in snow boots

Dance Away the Winter Blues Under a Moonless Sky
Feb 10 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Dance Away the Winter Blues Under a Moonless Sky

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

Observatory Open
Feb 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm