The International Dark-Sky Association will announce today that the Emmet County’s Headlands has been awarded the prestigious International Dark Sky Park designation. The Freep reports that the 600-acre park just west of Mackinaw City is only the sixth International Dark Sky Park in the nation, which means that with minimal light pollution, it offers an extraordinary place for stargazing.
“It was a lot of effort, very time-consuming, but I love this stuff, so I was having a ball, and I’m just thrilled to get this,” said Mary Stewart Adams, who served on the committee and, last December, led about 75 people through an all-night viewing session of a lunar eclipse at the Headlands.
“We believe this designation will attract a lot of serious astronomers to our area,” she said, “but also the casual viewers who just want to see all the stars in the northern sky.”
Key to securing the designation was the endorsement of Patrick Stonehouse, a teacher and astronomer in neighboring Cheboygan County who from his rooftop observatory in Wolverine discovered a comet in 1998 that the International Astronomical Union has labeled 1998 H1, or Comet Stonehouse.
“Children from the cities who have only seen pictures of stars in books will be thrilled and inspired as they gaze at thousands of bright twinkling stars, silent and magically suspended in the clear dark skies over the Headlands,” he wrote in an e-mail congratulating committee members.
The Dark Sky Park designation will be celebrated with an event at the Headlands on June 21, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. Head over to emmetcounty.org/darkskypark for details and thanks to Vic McCarty at The Ticker for the tip – read his article with some more info right here. You can also see some photos from their winter eclipse viewing and (potentially) purchase the above photo at Robert DeJonge’s Michigan Artisan website!