Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is virtually synonymous with sun drenched summer days, but a series of special stars Parties, will soon allow visitors experience the park’s magical during the night, too. Featuring celebrity gazing, solar viewing, storytelling, and sometimes even a meteor shower, Sleeping Bear Dune Parties are drop-in tradition parties which highlight the park nighttime sky and lengthy coastline that permits uninterrupted sky viewing. Each event may have telescopes and info stations for visitors to observe stars, planets and deep space objects such as the Milky Way.

Park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be on hand to help visitors learn about and appreciate the worldwide resource that’s the dark night sky. Star Party visitors are invited to bring a flash light and insect spray, as well as binoculars, beach chairs, and blankets. All Star Party events are free, however, a visitor’s pass is required for entrance to the park. The National Park Service lately released dates for this season’s Star Parties, which run from Apr until October and are held in several locations around the park. The inaugural 2019 party kicked off on Apr thirteenth, the rest will take place on the following dates: May 25 Location: Dune Climb.

Highlights: Binary stars, brighter deep sky objects. June 8 Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Solar viewing in the mid-day, later, Moon, Mars, and Jupiter. July 6 Location: Dune Climb. Key Features: Sunny afternoon viewing, in dusk, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn. August 10 Location: Thoreson Farm. Highlights: Solar viewing in the mid-day, followed by the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and some brighter deep sky objects. August 31 Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Solar viewing in the mid-day, evening, Jupiter, Saturn, summer Milky Way. September 21 Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Jupiter, Saturn, the summer Milky Way. October 21 Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 49th Anniversary Star Party. Saturn after dark, Pleiades, northern Milky Way.