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Join park rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) for the final three monthly astronomy events of the year at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). Each special event will be at a different location throughout the National Lakeshore to take advantage of strategic viewing opportunities. Come for stargazing, meteor showers, and storytelling.
The National Park Service (NPS), at parks such as the National Lakeshore, protect our daytime enjoyment of beautiful landscapes as well as protect our enjoyment of the night sky. Through pristine views of a starry sky at night, we learn about where our planet has come from and where it is going. A night in the national parks is an opportunity to sleep under the stars and see the sky the way every generation of human beings once did. Astronomy in the parks doesn't end when the sun comes up. The national parks are also a window to the other worlds of our solar system. A hike through the active dunes is to experience the sands of Mars and the Lake Michigan ice volcanoes in the middle of winter are like a hike on a moon of Saturn. In the National Lakeshore, come for the landscape, stay for the universe!
The NPS embraces night skies as one of the many scenic vistas of which the agency is a steward. This is essential to keeping a park whole and touches on almost every aspect that is important, from sustainability to stargazing and wildlife to geologic history.
In partnership with the GTAS, the National Lakeshore is excited to offer these special astronomy programs. The GTAS provides volunteers who share their telescopes and vast knowledge. Their passion is evident when they line up a star or planet in the eyepiece of their telescopes for you to see as they guide you through these three night sky journeys.
August 11 (Saturday, 8:00-10:30 p.m.) - Port Oneida Fair Star Party
Learn about the history of astronomy and view Mars, Saturn, and the Southern Milky Way from Thoreson Farm in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. Also, see the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.
September 8 (Saturday, 8:00-10:00 p.m.) - See the Stars from the Sand
The Dune Climb isn't just for running. Observe Mars, Saturn and the Southern Milky Way. Meet at the Dune Climb parking lot.
October 21 (Sunday, 8:00-10:00 p.m.) - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's 42nd Anniversary Party
Watch the first quarter moon, Mars, and Saturn. Meet at the Dune Overlook #3, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Please park at Picnic Mountain, the next right after the #2 stop.
For all astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed. Park rangers and GTAS staff will be wearing red glow bracelets at the events.
The monthly Star Parties will be cancelled during inclement weather. The decision is usually made three hours in advance. Please call park rangers at 231-326-5134, ext. 331, for a voicemail message with the decision.
All programs are free. Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. For more information about the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, go to http://www.gtastro.org/.