The Nine Best Places for Stargazing in Michigan

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Milky Way at Headlands International Dark Sky Park, MI. Courtesy https://www.midarkskypark.org/

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

Michigan is a land of many landscapes in ever-changing seasons (that rarely adhere to the calendar). We love our Great Lake State, our Water Winter Wonderland, and our Pure Michigan. Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice, “if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you,” our state motto tells us.

And while you’re looking about, don’t forget to gaze upward into the celestial landscape and its wonders. To help us gaze with amazement into the astronomical abyss, Michigan has eight designated places just for that purpose.

Dark Sky Preserves are protected areas designated to protect and preserve the night sky. Preserves are typically areas within a larger area, such as a state park or recreational area, where measures have been taken to reduce the impact of artificial lighting on the night sky.

Michigan has six Dark Sky Preserves and two Internationally Designated Dark Sky Parks.

Six Dark Sky Preserves located within Michigan State Parks

Lake Hudson Recreation Area (Lenawee County) is just an hour and six minutes south of Dexter and Chelsea. Lake Hudson was the first designated Dark Sky Preserve in the U.S.

Negwegon State Park (Alcona County) is three hours forty-two minutes north. Located on Lake Huron. Undeveloped, sandy roads and four-wheel-drive is strongly recommended.

Port Crescent State Park (Huron County) is a two-hour and forty-two-minute drive to the tip of Michigan’s thumb.

Rockport Recreation Area (Presque Isle County) takes four hours and six minutes to reach by car. Located on Lake Huron near Alpena.

Thompson's Harbor State Park (Presque Isle County) is a four-hour and five-minute drive north. Located on Lake Huron between Alpena and Cheboygan.

Wilderness State Park (Emmet County) is a four-hour and fourteen-minute drive to the tip of the Mitten. Located on Lake Michigan.

Internationally Designated Dark Sky Parks

Dark Sky Parks are more extensive tracts of land than preserves. These provide an exceptional view of the night sky. There are 114 Internationally Designated Dark Sky Parks in the world. Michigan has two of them.

Headlands Dark Sky Park (Emmet County park) is a four-hour and five-minute drive to the tip of the Mitten. Located two miles west of Mackinaw City on Lake Michigan.

Dr. T.K. Lawless Park (Cass County park) is two hours and thirteen minutes west. Located 10 miles west of Three Rivers, MI.

#9 The Upper Peninsula

And speaking of pleasant peninsulas, we just happen to have two. Cross the Mackinac Bridge into the land up yonder, and most of the Upper Peninsula’s 16,377 square miles could be a designated dark sky park—as if the UP didn’t already have enough tall trees, contours, wolves, moose, mountain lions, bears, wild weather, and the greatest of Great Lakes to satiate our call of the wild.

Meteor Showers

Whether you’re in a dark sky preserve or park, mark your calendar as a reminder to look skyward on the following nights for these 2022 meteor showers:

  • Eta Aquarids: May 5
  • Delta Aquarids: July 29-30
  • Perseids: Aug.11-12
  • Draconids: Oct. 8
  • Orionids: Oct. 21
  • Southern Taurids: Nov. 4-5
  • Northern Taurids: Nov. 11-12
  • Leonids: Nov. 17-18
  • Geminids: Dec. 13-14
  • Ursids: Dec. 22

Have fun!

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