Most of us have had the magical moment as a child of wishing on the first star in the night sky. But what if those moments weren’t reserved for children in their backyards?

Those inspiring moments happen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City, MI.

The only designated dark sky park in Michigan and one of the first 10 in the United States, Headlands is over 550 acres of wooded area and more than 2 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline on the Mackinaw Straits. This protected area ensures not only the quality and safety of the land, water and air in the area, but of a resource that is often overlooked just above us—the night sky.

A “dark park” designation ensures light levels over the area never interrupt the natural darkness of the sky or impede the view of the stars and their celestial companions.

Headlands’ program director, as well as star lore historian and storyteller, Mary Stewart Adams encourages visitors to get in touch with their inner compass and explorer.

“Finding your way both on the earth and the sky is profoundly philosophical, as well as practical,” Adams explains. “We’ve lost our ability to navigate without the press of a button, and visiting the park allows you to learn to find your way again.

Planning a visit to Headlands?

Follow these simple tips to make it a memorable trip.

  • Do research: Check what you can expect seasonally in the sky to get your bearings.
  • Come early: Get familiar and take in the sunset.
  • Lights out: No artificial lights. If you need a flashlight, wrap a red bandana around it with tape.
  • Bug off: Bring bug spray to keep away unwanted pests.
  • No camping: While you’re welcome and encouraged to stay out all night, no tents or camping equipment are allowed. Bring along a chair or sleeping bag to keep comfy and warm.
  • New moon: Best time to see the wonders of the night sky are at the new moon (in October, that’s the 12th).

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