2017-07-27 / Outdoors

Second ‘Astromony Day’ planned by Lakeshore


THE MILKY WAY lightens an otherwise dark sky above the Tweddle Farm, which is located near Empire and within the Lakeshore. THE MILKY WAY lightens an otherwise dark sky above the Tweddle Farm, which is located near Empire and within the Lakeshore. Astronomy Day is returning.

The event, scheduled at the foot of the Dune Climb and at the Visitors Center, will be held Saturday with family activities starting at 3 p.m. and continuing that evening into some of the darkest skies remaining in the lower Peninsula.

“National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness, providing an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource,” said Gary VanDerziel, executive assistant at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

A park pass is required to attend.

The event opens at the Dune Climb with family activities, with an opportunity to enjoy a “day sky experience” from 4-6 p.m. when visitors can safely view the sun through a solar telescope. Astronomers and rangers will assist in viewing Earth’s closest star.

Dr. Jerry Dobek, an astronomer and faculty member at Northwestern Michigan College, will discuss “Saving the Night Sky” at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center Auditorium. He also serves as regional “solar system ambassador” for NASA’s Juet Propulsion Lab.

Dobek has helped write lighting ordinances for townships in Grand Traverse and other counties in Michigan.

Park rangers Marie Scott and Matt Ferraro will help visitors plan their evening of stargazing from 7:30-8 p.m. at the Dune Climb.

A “Star Party” will culminate the evening from 9-11 p.m. Bob Moler of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will help host the evening event. Visitors may view the skies through telescopes for closer views of Jupiter, Saturn and possibly a deep space object.

Visitors are asked to park in the row farthest from the dunes with headlights facing M-109. They are encouraged to bring a flashlight to get back to their vehicles, and bug spray if desired. Binoculars, beach chairs, blankets and water are also optional.

Outdoor events will be canceled if the sun and stars are not visible due to weather conditions. The decision to cancel will be made two hours in advance. Call 326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision.

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