Summer Star Parties begin at National Lakeshore

EMPIRE — Located far from sources of urban light pollution, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore allows for an unhindered view of the night sky and offers opportunities for visitors to gaze at the visible universe as it was witnessed in times long past.

The first Star Party will be held from 9 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Dune Climb. The theme of the first Star Party will be “Night Sky 101” and will explain the basics of astronomy to visitors. The basics of preserving the night sky also will be part of the discussion. Saturday evening will be the peak night of the annual Lyrids metor shower, which is generally from April 16 through April 25.

The event will be canceled for inclement weather or if the stars are not visible due to cloudy weather conditions. The decision to cancel will be made two hours in advance of the event — please call (231) 326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision.

In 2017, the National Lakeshore will be hosting a series of monthly astronomy programs that run from April through October. Park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will help you unravel some of the mysteries of the night sky as well as discover more about the daytime sky.

The events will take place at different locations throughout the National Lakeshore in order to take advantage of strategic viewing opportunities and to offer the very best experience to the visitors. There will be prospects for star-gazing, eclipses, meteor showers, solar viewing, storytelling, and more. Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects. National parks enclose some of the last remaining harbors of darkness in America, and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource firsthand.

All programs offered by the National Lakeshore are free. Participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a flashlight for the walk back to their cars and should bring bug spray if desired. Visitors may also want to bring binoculars, beach chairs, blankets and water.

These events are also the perfect occasion to “Find Your Park” in the stars, and share your adventures at FindYourPark.com. So visit the National Lakeshore and enjoy the following celestial summer events:

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