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The sky is the limit at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). Explore the Milky Way, Mars, and Venus with park rangers and astronomers in the Dune Climb parking lot on Saturday, February 25 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Experience the winter night sky in near total darkness. Visitors are asked to park in the row farthest from the dunes, away from the telescopes, with headlights facing M-109.
The winter sky contains the brightest stars of any season, including the central constellation of Orion the Hunter and the beautiful Orion Nebula. Nebulas are interstellar clouds of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gasses where stars and planetary bodies are formed. The Great Orion Nebula, illuminated by hot young stars, is the closest of these regions to Earth. Closer to home is Venus appearing as a crescent, way on the other side of the Sun.
The event will be cancelled if the stars are not visible due to cloudy weather conditions. The decision to cancel will be made two hours in advance of the event; please call 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision.
All sky programs offered by the National Lakeshore are free. Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. Passes may be purchased at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire and cost $15 per vehicle for seven days.
This event is the perfect opportunity to Find Your Park in the stars. Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects. National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness, providing an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource.
For more information about the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, go to http://www.gtastro.org/.