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 firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow our Facebook page for more news and photos.
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.
Join us Friday, March 6, from 7-9 p.m., for an evening painting class with Creation Station as they guide us through painting our own masterpiece.
Cost to participate is $35 per person and includes all materials, step-by-step instructions and refreshments. No painting experience is necessary.
As space for the class is limited, pre-registration is required. Sign up now at Creation Station’s website or call (231) 268-3059. Payment is due at time of reservation to guarantee your seat. Credit card accepted by phone and online.
The Headlands will kick off its “Evenings Under the Stars” series of programs on Friday, April 17! Alpena’s Besser Planaterium Director Johnathan Winckowski will give a presentation in celebration of Statewide Astronomy Night. The event runs from 7-9 p.m. and is free to the public.
Beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, our astronomy assistants will deliver a presentation and then help guests in viewing the Lyrids Meteor Shower through binoculars. Binoculars will not be provided and guests will need to bring their own. Observation is weather-permitting. Cost is $5 a person.
The Lyrids is an average shower with about 20 meteors per hour at its peak runs annually from April 16-25. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher discovered in 1861. The shower peaks in 2020 on the night of the night of the April 22 into the morning of April 23. The meteors radiate from the constellation Lyra though they may appear anywhere in the sky and sometimes produce bright dust trails lasting for several seconds. A nearly-new moon this year will ensure dark skies to help with the Lyrids show.
Beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, our astronomy assistants will deliver a presentation about the Structure of the Solar System, followed by guided night sky observation with telescopes out on the viewing platform. Observation is weather-permitting. Cost is $5 a person.
On Friday, June 19, Professor Sally Oey of the University of Michigan will be at the Headlands’ Waterfront Event Center on for a special presentation in another of our “Evenings Under the Stars” series. Professor Oey will be discussing about “The Importance of Michigan Dark Skies” and the effects of light pollution on humans and wildlife. The event runs from 7-9 p.m. Cost is $5 per person.
On Friday, June 26, Professor Norbert Vance of Eastern Michigan University, director of the EMU Sherzer Observatory, will join us at the Headlands Waterfront Event Center for a special presentation on the impact of the Apollo missions, NASA’s attempts from 1963-1972 to land humans on the moon. Professor Vance will talk about the advances and discoveries the missions made, and the program’s effects on the field of astronomy. The event runs from 9-11 p.m. Cost is $5 per person. Guided night sky observation, with telescopes out on the viewing platform, will follow Professor Vance’s presentation, weather-permitting.