The Dark Skies Program in Hillman Michigan
With all the city lights it may be difficult to see the midnight sky.
Come North and check out the Dark Skies in Northern Michigan.
THE DARK SKIES PROGRAM
By Sue Floer
On a good night, the sky will be filled with thousands of stars. There are also asteroids, comets, planets and galaxies to gaze at, along with sparkling clusters and ghostly nebulae. Trying to spot the constellations can be fun. With a guide book in your pocket, along with a red-lit flashlight, you will have all the information needed for an interesting evening of dark sky viewing!
Choose a nice clear night – unfortunately, the coldest nights are the best for viewing because the air is less turbulent and hazy. It’s best to go when there’s not a full moon because it can drown out familiar objects. However, there are a lot of interesting facets to the moon.
Take along warm clothing, blankets, and reclining lawn chairs - which will keep your neck from aching. You may also want to take along a thermos and perhaps some dried fruit.
Since my husband and I moved up north, we were in awe at the number of stars we would see from our property, which is located just north of the town of Hillman, near the airport. We could spend hours looking for shooting stars during the summer months in August. We would make some popcorn and gaze at the thousands of interesting star patterns. “There’s one!” After the evening was winding down and the campfire died down, we could hear call of the coyotes getting closer. Our evening usually ended on that note…especially if it was a pack looking for some fresh popcorn or, worse yet…some meat!
When we used to vacation on Long Lake, fourteen miles outside of Traverse City, we rented a cabin for two weeks. We would play cards until 2:00 in the morning, then head out on the dock over the water with blankets to lay on. We would take along the leftover snacks from the card game and spend an hour or so star gazing, while lying on our backs. Fond memories!
Learning the constellations in Junior High School was an interesting subject for me. I wish I could remember half of what I learned back then. Star gazing is cheap entertainment that can be most relaxing and educational at the same time.
We are fortunate to live in an area that has very little night clutter. We need to take advantage of this unique opportunity to have much fun at night as we do during the day. Montmorency County is a great place to live, and we’re glad we made the decision to move north to Hillman from Fenton twenty years ago.