Battle Creek

100 Hours of Astronomy

100 hours of AstronomyThe 100 Hours of Astronomy project (100HA) is a worldwide event with a wide range of public outreach activities including live webcasts, observing events and more taking place during a 100-hour period in early April. One of the key goals of 100HA is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago.

The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society will co-sponsor simultaneous 100HA events on both April 3rd and 4th with the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Kingman Museum of Battle Creek as part of the International Astronomical Union’s “100 Hours of Astronomy” celebration by inviting the public to take a closer look at what’s up there — way, way, way up there. This event takes place just when the Moon goes from First Quarter to Waxing Gibbous, good phases for early evening observing. Saturn will be the other highlight of early evening observing events.

Using much more sophisticated and technical equipment than Galileo had in 1609, society members and museum staff will point their telescopes to provide views of the moon, the vast plains called Maria, chains of mountains and craters. Further east, the planet Saturn will come into focus, revealing the rings that remained a mystery to Galileo.

Eric Schreur, the museum’s planetarium coordinator, said the free stargazing will begin at 8 p.m. on both that Friday and Saturday, and continue until people’s eyes grow tired of the celestial sights.

The concept of “100 Hours of Astronomy” is derived from the fact that, beginning on the evening of April 2, backyard stargazers around the world will set up their telescopes to give public audiences the chance to look up close and personal skyward.

As the earth turns into its shadow, observers in different cities will keep a continuous watch on the night sky until four days have elapsed. Major observatories around the world will participate by streaming webcasts to audiences in distant cities.

Throughout the four-day period, somewhere around the earth a telescope will be aimed into the night sky.

Another IYA goal is to have millions of people viewing the night sky through telescopes of their own.

Some people have telescopes buried in a closet or garage. The Telescope Amnesty Program invites people to bring them to IYA events, including those at the museum, where experienced stargazers can demonstrate how to set them up, or tune them for better performance.

Dig Michigan: Kalamazoo Region

Situated approximately half way between Detroit and Chicago and home to Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo is the second of Michigan’s regions that we are exploring this month. Our goal with this series of articles is to give you a little taste of some great vacation opportunities that are probably less than a tank of gas away, so if you have suggestions or questions about visiting the area, we’d love it if you would share them in the comments

july 20 station

A Brief History
Through Discover Kalamazoo we learn that Kalamazoo County began as a small fur-trading post founded by Titus Bronson in the late 1700s. Like many Michigan cities, Kalamazoo’s name was adapted from an Indian word, “kikalamazoo,” meaning boiling water. Water has long been a vital component in Kalamazoo’s major industries including papermaking and agriculture which have helped the area grow and prosper.

Some of the many famous products manufactured in Kalamazoo include Checker Cabs, Gibson guitars, Kalamazoo Stoves, Stryker hospital beds and Shakespeare fishing rods and reels. In the late 1800s, W. E. Upjohn moved to Kalamazoo and created The Upjohn Company, which is now part of Pfizer Corporation, the world ‘s largest pharmaceutical company.

Recently Kalamazoo has made national news with the Kalamazoo Promise which provides a scholarship to every Kalamazoo Public School student. It has served as a catalyst and an inspiration throughout Michigan, the United States and even the international community.

Culinary Delights
Once know as ‘Celery City‘, Kalamazoo was once was noted for celery and bedding plants. To this day the surrounding countryside still continues to produce significant quantities of farm crops of which can be found at one of the many area farmers markets and u-pick farms. Like other regions in Michigan the Kalamazoo area has become home to the burgeoning wine industry. The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail hugs the southeast shore of Lake Michigan, extending from the Michigan-Indiana border north 70 miles to the Kalamazoo River. The Kalamazoo area also is home to several micro-breweries such as Aradia brewing Co in Battle Creek and the granddaddy of them all Bell’s Brewery. Other notable food producers include Tree-Mendus Fruit which is home of the world famous International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship, the A.M. Todd Company which is a leading producer of peppermint oil and their offshoot Kalsec which produces spice, herb, hop, and vegetable extracts. Just a few of the great restaurants in the area include Zazios which features an interactive dining experience, the Epic Bistro, Food Dance, Tello Wine Bar and the historic Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub.

Kalamazoo and surrounding areas, in pictures
The photo above is titled july 20 station taken by Kathie Gibson aka noearlybird and is part of the Kalamazoo flickr pool. The location of the photo is the new Kalamazoo Transportation Center. Also check out Kathie’s shots of Binder Park Zoo in nearby Battle Creek. In addition to Kalamazoo, some other areas you may want check out include, South Haven, St. Joseph, Battle Creek and Saugatuck.

South Haven Pier by the kcephoto
South Haven Pier by the kcephoto

But what is there to DO in Kalamazoo?
Known as the land of rolling hills and numerous lakes it is the cities that bring rich and diverse community culture to the Kalamazoo region. This area of Michigan is packed with must see attractions, abundant recreation and unique shopping experiences for everyone. In the summer months the beautiful inland lakes and the the Lake Michigan shoreline towns of St. Joseph, South Haven and Saugatuck are popular destinations. Other notable outdoor hotspots include the Kal-Haven Trail State Park, which is a 34.5 mile linear Kal-Haven Trail State Park extends from South Haven, on the shores of Lake Michigan, to the northwest suburbs of the City of Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Watershed Heritage Water Trail and Warren Dunes State Park. There is also plenty to do year around such as the Air Zoo, the Gilmore Car Museum, the #1 in the nation rated Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the Binder Park Zoo, the American Museum of Magic and the expansive Fort Custer Recreation Area.

Where do I go for more?
You can dig deeper through Absolute Michigan by checking out Absolute Michigan county pages for St. Joseph , Kalamazoo, Cass, Barry, Van Buren, Allegan, Calhoun & Branch and also try the pages for Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, South Haven and many other towns that you can see on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan. Of course there are tons of other web sites with useful information. Some of our favorites are the The City of Kalamazoo, South Haven Visitors Bureau, St. Joseph Today and Battle Creek Play for Keeps.

Road Trip: 2008 World Disc Golf Championships; August 8 – 16

From August 8th through the 16th, 2008, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Michigan will be hosting the biggest Disc Golf event to date, The 2008 Professional and Amateur World Championships, crowning the best disc golfers from around the world in one location.

The World Championships will invite over 1000 participants from all over the world to come to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek for the biggest Disc Golf event seen to date. The Worlds is a revolving tournament, visiting only the most desired disc golf locales in the country for one week a year.

About Disc Golf
Disc golf began on the west coast in 1976 by the father of the disc golf, “Steady Ed” Headrick. He took the principles of Ball Golf and applied it to his passion for playing frisbee, changing the simple plastic disc into a physical, mental, and social game for all ages to enjoy. The object of Disc Golf is to complete a hole, starting at a teeing location (teebox) and finishing at the target (polehole or basket), an above ground version of the ball golf green and cup. Just as in ball golf, the least amount of strokes is desired and shooting par or under is the goal.

The sport grew because of the dedication of the few involved at inception and with the help of the Professional Disc Golf Association (, the sport is exploding due to the over 1000 courses around the country and the challenge that each hole provides.

Disc golf is a relatively inexpensive sport as equipment costs are low and most courses are free to play. Mixed with the mental game of ball golf and the easy learning curve, most beginners will be making pars by the end of their first round. However, to be a World Champion, it takes mental prowess, dedication, and a love for the sport much like our sport professional heroes.

Visit the 2008 Disc Golf World Championships website for complete details!

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Michigan Restaurants: Clara’s of Battle Creek & Lansing

Depot Restaurant – Clara’s by j image

Clara’s on the River sits on the waterfront in Battle Creek and occupies the historic Michigan Central Railroad Depot (1888), whose weathered Lake Superior red sandstone and clock tower look much as they did in their heyday. Clara’s Lansing station is at the Michigan Central Railroad Depot which is rumored to have also been used as a backdrop in the production and shooting of the famous novel turned movie, Anatomy of a Murder. Both locations are beautifully restored with plenty for the kids to look at and learn from!

The menu at both restaurants features a diverse sampling of American and international dishes from staples like sandwiches and prime rib to Cajun meatloaf to New Zealand orange roughy. Clara’s tends to stay busy throughout the year, so reservations are suggested.

Visit the web site for Clara’s Restaurants and see the Battle Creek and Lansing locations on Absolute Michigan’s Map of Michigan.

Michigan Books: Paper Tiger: One Athlete’s Journey to the Underbelly of Pro Football by Ted A. Kluck

Paper Tiger: One AthletePaper Tiger: One Athlete’s Journey to the Underbelly of Pro Football by Ted A. Kluck (Lyons Press) employs humor and the behind-the-scenes style of journalism pioneered in George Plimpton’s classic Paper Lion. In the book, Kluck details his season as a long snapper with the Battle Creek Crunch of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League. In this near-bottom rung of professional football, teams struggle to make ends meet and players refuse to abandon their love of the game in their fight for one last shot at gridiron glory.

You can learn more about the author (who also writes for ESPN) at his web site,

More Michigan Notable Books! The Michigan Notable Books program annually selects 20 of the most notable books published in the year. The selections are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience. You can click to view more Notable Books featured on Absolute Michigan and learn more about the program at

Fall Color Tours: Lansing – Grand Ledge – Hastings – Battle Creek – Eaton Rapids

maplepath by Aunt Owwee

Our next fall color tour from Travel Michigan, Lansing – Grand Ledge – Hastings – Battle Creek – Eaton Rapids, starts where the photo the the right (maplepath by Aunt Owwee) was taken: at the Fenner Nature Center in Lansing (once known as the Fenner Arboretum). The park is named after biologist Carl G. Fenner and has 130 acres with 4 miles of trails winding through maple groves, pine forests, swamp forests, old fields and 3 different ponds. This weekend (Oct 20 & 21) they’re having an Apple Butter Festival. Aunt Owwee (Shirl) has a cool four seasons view from here and lot more great shots of autumn in Michigan.If you’ve got the nature center bug, you can stop at the Woldumar Nature Center, located along the Grand River not far southwest of Lansing. From there, it’s north on M-43 to Grand Ledge. Fitzgerald Park aka “The Ledges” are absolutely gorgeous in the fall, as evidenced by this photo from Rein Nomm of Fall at the Ledges that appeared last year on Michigan in Pictures. Not convinced? Search fall at Grand Ledge on Flickr. Last weekend, the city of Grand Ledge held their annual Color Cruise, but there’s still plenty of color to be found.

Thornapple River by hansendmThen it’s on to Hastings and Historic Charlton Park, a re-creation of a 19th century town. The structures are open only Memorial Day to Labor Day but you can certainly enjoy strolling along the river. For a little more exercise, jump on the non-motorized vehicle only Paul Henry – Thornapple Trail (see photos of the trail on Flickr). When complete, the trail will be a 42-mile route from Grand Rapids to Vermontville. The photo to the right of the Thornapple River was taken by hansendm.

The it’s on to Gull Lake and the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is one of the North America’s pioneer wildlife conservation centers and offers a chance to see birds in the wild, bird displays and birds of prey enclosures featuring rare and common raptors including a bald eagle, red-tailed hawks and eastern screech owl.

Travel Michigan suggests a possible detour to the Fort Custer Recreation Area, located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. It features three lakes, the Kalamazoo River and an excellent trail system that includes 16 miles of mountain bike trails. The 3000+ acre area was farmland that was acquired by the federal government to establish Camp Custer, an induction and military training center for the US Army during WWII.

If it’s raining or all this outdoor stuff doesn’t sound fun, consider stopping at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners which features almost 200 vehicles spanning over 100 years of automotive heritage from a 1899 Locomobile to the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s.

Kalamazoo river from the Nature Center bridge by cathieContinuing south, we come to the city of Battle Creek where recommended stops include the Sojourner Truth Monument, Binder Park Zoo, the Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden and the Battle Creek Linear Park. The park is a walkable, bikeable and billed as “the world’s largest classroom,” featuring signs that tell about plant, animal, cultural and historical points-of-interest along the park.

If you’re hungry as you head out on Old 27, consider Cornwell’s Turkey House aka Turkeyville USA in the town of Marshall. In addition to being a shopping mecca, Marshall’s downtown is designated as a National Historic Landmark District and features a wealth of historic attractions including the American Museum of Magic.

The photo to the right is of the Kalamazoo river from the Nature Center bridge by cathie and it’s just one of the places you can stop as you ease on down the road back to Lansing through the towns of Albion, Springport & Eaton Rapids. They recommend a stop at The English Inn of Eaton Rapids for dinner. Having eaten there before, I can only say “got room for another?”

Just so it’s clear, these fall color tour entries are produced by Absolute Michigan & Michigan in Pictures using the great information compiled in Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours as a starting point. We’re trying to add to what they’ve put together – not rip them off! As always, if you have links to information or photos that we missed, comments or reports, post them in the comments below!

Don’t miss our Michigan Fall Wallpaper series and see more of Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours.