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The sky is the limit at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). Explore the Milky Way, Mars, and Saturn with park rangers and astronomers in the Dune Climb parking lot on Saturday, September 3 from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. Experience the late summer night sky in near total darkness.
During the event, Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) astronomer Bob Moler will be presenting a talk on the topic of “100 Years of Recognizing and Studying the Andromeda Nebula as a Galaxy.” The talk will begin at 9:05 p.m., just after the 9:00 p.m. welcome, and will last about 15 minutes. Visitors are asked to park in the row farthest from the dunes, with headlights facing M-109.
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.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a flashlight for the walk back to their cars, and should bring bug spray if desired. Visitors may also want to bring binoculars, beach chairs, blankets and water.
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 a listing of future star parties and other programs, check the park’s event calendar. For more information about the GTAS, go to http://www.gtastro.org/.