The World’s ninth International Dark Sky Park is located in Mackinaw City. With deep dark skies overhead, the vast expanse of Lake Michigan to the west, bustling Mackinaw City to the east, and 600 acres of pristine, old-growth forest, the Headlands Park property is a gem. Its International Dark Sky Park status makes it shine even brighter, a prestigious designation reserved only for the world’s darkest places. In May 2011, the Headlands was named such a park by the International Dark-Sky Association in Tucson, Ariz., after a rigorous application process that involved taking specific measurements of light levels at the park.
Enjoy the New Waterfront Event Center and Observatory. The new facility will include an observatory with a research-grade telescope, an outdoor seating arena, an indoor program area for use by day and night and a living ‘green’ roof! The new Event Center is expected to open by June 1, 2017
So what is a Dark Sky Park? It’s a park or other public land possessing exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat, where light pollution is mitigated, and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resource. Just 16 percent of the world’s population lives in an area dark enough to be designated an International Dark Sky Park like the Headlands. Here, amateur and professional astronomers, photographers, and sky-gazers can be assured that a trip into the darkness will present myriad stars and sky-high experiences. Emmet County has owned the Headlands since the early 1990s and has maintained the five miles of trails and two residences (available for rent) on 2+ miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline. The park is accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.