There will be opportunities for Michiganians to enjoy the stars next week as International Dark Sky Week kicks off in many of Michigan’s state parks. The event runs from April 13th to the 18th, and 29 Michigan state parks will be open with extended hours for astronomy enthusiasts to enjoy the night sky.
Started in 2003 by a high school student named Jennifer Barlow, International Dark Sky Week has over the past twelve years grown into an event coinciding with Global Astronomy Month. This year, the United Nations is even getting involved, by declaring 2015 The International Year of Light. This global initiative will raise awareness on light and light-based technology and how it affects the environment; offering sustainable solutions to energy use, education, health, climate change, and protecting the environment.
Awareness of the impact light pollution has on the environment is the focus of the first day of International Dark Sky Week. Each day of the week has it’s own topic dealing with light and it’s impact on the Earth. One way everyone can appreciate the importance of having dark skies is by going outside and enjoying the stars. Michigan state parks during the week will offer nights where people can come, look at the stars and talk about the importance of light in our world, and what we can do to improve our use of light for the betterment of the planet. Ludington State Park and Rockport State Recreation Area both will have astronomy programs available. Many other state parks will hold extended hours so people can come and enjoy the night sky.
A state recreation passport is required to enter Michigan’s state parks. They can be purchased at any Secretary of State’s office or ordered online.
With clear weather, next week will be the perfect time to go outdoors at night and look at the stars. Planets, the milky way, and constellations will all be visible. This event is also an important part of the global awareness of the impact of light on our environment, and how our energy consumption to create the light we use contributes to climate change. Take the time to enjoy the stars.