Dark Sky Parks offer ideal viewing
from the Michigan DNR
Something about the night sky simply inspires awe. As the stars begin to appear after sunset, we can go outdoors and see the vastness of space, and perhaps realize that our day-to-day stresses are not so big after all. Michiganders are fortunate to have access to several ideal locations for stargazing, including three state parks with dark sky preserves: Port Crescent State Park (Huron County), Lake Hudson Recreation Area (Lenawee County) and Wilderness State Park (Emmet County).
On the night of September 27-28, there will be even more reason to visit these parks due to the Super Harvest Moon Total Eclipse. The Harvest moon will be a spectacle to see, and Michigan state parks and state forest campgrounds are ideal viewing locations. The eclipse begins at 9:07, but the best views will be from about 10:10 to 11:30 p.m., from anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
Here are a few tips for viewing this natural nighttime show:
- Show up to your stargazing destination while it’s still light out to allow your eyes to adjust slowly as the light disappears. This also allows you to see where you’re going as you choose the perfect viewing spot.
- Don’t use artificial light sources such as flashlights and cell phone displays. The first tip above should allow you to see enough to get around without damaging your night vision. If you need to use light, try placing red tape over a flashlight, since red light is less damaging to night vision ability.
- Make sure you have any necessary parking passes, such as the Recreation Passport, which grants access to any Michigan state park, state forest campground or state boat launch. Please note that Michigan state park day use areas are closed after 10 p.m. For late-night viewing opportunities, be sure to book a campsite and watch the skies from the campground.
- Bring chairs, blankets, water and snacks to make your night comfortable. You may be there for a couple hours, so don’t let hunger or discomfort ruin this spectacular evening!
- Know what to look for: visit a site like www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/ to see what will be in the sky during your visit. Stargazing is even more fun when you can point out constellations, planets and other celestial elements.
For more information about the eclipse, including diagrams and a full explanation, visit http://earthsky.org/?p=51212.
To find a nearby state park or state forest campground, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationsearch.
To check camping availability and make a reservation at www.midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757).