Sleeping Bear Dunes Star-GazingStar Party at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Saturday, June 18 at 9:00 p.m. for an evening with the stars. Join a Park Ranger and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at the mouth of the Platte River on Lake Michigan Drive in Benzie County to learn about and celebrate the night sky.  Watch the sun set into Lake Michigan, view the starry constellations, and spot the rings of Saturn through huge telescopes.  If you are lucky, you may even get to see the elusive green flash as the sun sinks below the horizon!


The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society is partnering with the National Lakeshore for this event.  The Society has been in existence for 29 years and its members regularly share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the public at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory in Traverse City.  More recently, the Society has branched out to locations from street corners to national parks, sharing the wonders of the universe with the public.  Our first joint star party was this past October on the 40th anniversary of the National Lakeshore. Four more evenings are scheduled through October 2011. (Photo from October 2010)


The dark skies of the National Lakeshore were recently hailed as one of the ten best in the entire National Park System. “Just as the parks are dedicated to preserving landscapes, cultural sites, and habitat for wildlife, so are they concerned about overhead resources – particularly the kind of dark skies that reveal the beauty of the nighttime firmament,” declares National Geographic’s newly released Ten Best of Everything National Parks.


Superintendent Dusty Shultz noted, “Many of our visitors come from cities where they rarely, if ever, get to see the Milky Way. Looking out over Lake Michigan, they are awestruck by the density of the constellations in view.” Shultz added, “We are pleased and honored to be working with the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society on this series of star
parties and know the public will marvel at what they can see through the lenses of those fabulous telescopes.”


The public is invited to join us on this fun and educational night. Meet the Park Ranger at the end of Lake Michigan Road at the mouth of the Platte River on Saturday, June 18. The event, which begins at 9:00 p.m., will be offered just in time to also watch the sunset. Society members will have their telescopes out until 10:30 p.m. Dress for the weather and bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car.


All Park Ranger-led programs are free. Participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass displayed on their vehicle to join in the fun.  Please call 231-326-5134, ext. 328, for details or log onto Also, check out our Facebook page at