|Aerial view of The Headlands
Turn out the lights, but the party is not over. It’s just getting started. The International Dark Sky Park Association will announce today that Emmet County’s The Headlands – a 600-acre swath of wild land along the Straits of Mackinac – will be designated an International Dark Sky Park, only the sixth in the nation.
A Dark Sky Park is a designation that preserves a site for sky watching by prohibiting light pollution and ensuring that the park will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the public.
“We have a lot of energy devoted to protecting the water, protecting the land and protecting wildlife,” says astrosopher and Harbor Springs resident Mary Adams. “The night sky is something we must also protect because of light pollution and light trespass.”
Adams has been studying the cosmos for 30 years. The title “astrosopher” means she studies the wisdom of the night sky. “You can learn about the rythyms of life – daily, monthly, seasonally, annually,” she says. “Typically with astrosophy, I don’t go out as far as astronomers do. They talk in billions of years. And I usually talk about the rhythms of a human biography.”
Adams says the The Headlands offers exceptional opportunities for night sky viewing. Last December she hosted a late-night lunar eclipse gathering that also included a tour of the night sky. “The importance of a Dark Sky Park for this area is that it helps to raise awareness about the night sky as a resource,” says Adams. “Everything in the universe comes from the stars.”
The process to earn designation as a Dark Sky Park is extensive. The Headlands’ designation process began four years ago. Adams believes the efforts will prove well worth it because an official Dark Sky Park holds the promise of bringing in star-gazers of all experiences and locations to see a view of the region’s night sky visible nowhere else in northern Michigan.
“They can go do observing, they can do night sky photography or just lay on their back and look up at the shooting stars and experience what the nighttime sky is really like,” says Adams.
Emmet County will officially celebrate its Dark Sky Park designation on the summer solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year. For more information on the Dark Sky Park, call Emmet County’s Communications Director, Beth Ann Piehl at 231.348-1704 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.