Stargazing and Meteor-Watching – Three things to bring with you to Headlands Dark Sky Park

I went to Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City last night on a whim to catch the last of the Perseid meteor showers. The drive was almost four hours, which meant I had time to check into my motel, pick up a veggie sub from Mama Mia’s Pizza, and get to the park by five PM. I ate my sub in the nearly empty parking lot, and then scoped out a spot to use as home base.

I felt foolish for coming in so early when I saw that I was one of three cars in the parking lot. Gradually, though, the park started to fill up as the sun set. Finally, about 10:30 or so, stars and meteors started to appear. Those meteors – flashes, streaks, slow-moving white lights – were worth the trip and the wait, and by the time I left at about 11:30 all the parking lots were full and people were hiking in on foot.

I recommend that you bring these three things with you to Headlands International Dark Sky Park – in addition to your chair, food, and the required red flashlight, since no white light is permitted after dark:

  1. A blanket. Sure, the webite says to bring a jacket, but those winds off Lake Michigan are damp, and even at 55-60 degrees the cold cuts through jeans.
  2. A book or game. If you get there early enough to get a good parking space, you’ll have lots of free time before the show starts. I brought two – a print copy of The Stone Diaries and and the audio version (on my phone) of A Wizard of Earthsea.
  3. Headphones or earbuds, especially if you’re alone! They helped calm my irritation with the neighboring couple who decided that 80’s pop music was the perfect way to drown out the annoying sounds of waves on the beach and wind in the trees. I used my headphones, first for white noise while it was light enough to read, and then to listen to my audiobook.

Here are some photos – check out the living roof on the observatory! No star photos; I don’t have that skill. I wrote a review of A Wizard of Earthsea; feel free to check it out on my other blog.


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