7/3/2013 9:38:00 AM First Stargazing Series set for July 6 at Dark Sky Park
Submitted to Harbor Light Newspaper
July's First Saturday Stargazing Series at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park arrives with flair on Saturday, July 6, from 9 to 11 p.m. during an evening devoted to celestial phenomena that are sure to put a sparkle in the summer.
Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams will explain the rare and historical planetary configuration known as a "grand sextile" that occurs this month involving seven planets. Additionally, aurora borealis photographer Shawn Stockman-Malone will speak to this year's solar maximum and tips on how to catch the northern lights.
"Both of these phenomena are the type of events you need to know about before you can see them, so this evening's program will be rich with information about how to do just that," said Adams.
Every 11 years the Sun goes through a cycle that includes an increase in the activity of sunspots, and the year 2013 is a solar maximum year.
"So far it's been a pretty low maximum, but things are about to get exciting, and Shawn will tell us why," Adams said. "It is worth noting that Shawn is fresh from the wild success of her recent time-lapse video of the Northern Lights over Northern Michigan, called 'North Country Dreamland' which includes footage from March 2013 of Comet PANSTARRS as it set over the horizon at the Headlands."
During her portion of the evening, Shawn will demonstrates how she masters her art. The evening's program will include an indoor presentation of Stockman-Malone's photography, followed by outdoor, naked-eye and telescopic night sky viewing. Meet at the Beach House first.
The program is free and open to the public and no reservations are needed. Even though it's summer, it's advised that guests dress warmly as it's typically cooler along the Lake Michigan shoreline than inland. And if you bring a flashlight, please be sure it has a red filter, as the white light of flashlights and smart phones disrupts the night vision.
The Headlands became the 6th International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. and the 9th in the world in May 2011, and each month free programs are held for the public. Visit www.emmetcounty.org for 2013 programs and more information about the park. The county sends regular email blasts as well with information about night-sky observation opportunities and celestial events; to register, use the contact information above. The park is located about 2 miles west of downtown Mackinaw City. For more information about the Headlands, visit www.emmetcounty.org/darkskypark/