WUOMFM

Sometimes it's good to be kept in the dark

Apr 14, 2015

The Milky Way as visible from the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.
Credit Flickr user Yoshiyuki Takahashi / Flickr

This is International Dark Sky Week, a good time to remember that Michigan is home to an International Dark Sky Park, one of only 16 in the nation. And we've got three Dark Sky Preserves.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park is located along the shore of Lake Michigan near Mackinaw City. The park is easy to find, located just a few miles off of I-75.

Visitors come from all over the world to experience the park. Mary Steward Adams from the park says one of her most memorable interactions happened last year, when a man in his 20s who had never seen the night sky was visiting from Asia. She says he was awestruck and motionless when he first caught a glimpse of the Milky Way.

Adams says a truly dark night sky is becoming a rare thing, but there are many ways you can help prevent light pollution. She suggests turning on all of your lights at night, looking at your home or business, and making note of where the light is actually traveling.

Any lights that shine up or onto a neighbor's property should be eliminated.

"The International Dark Sky Association was able to demonstrate that almost one-third of the light that's used at night, every night, across the United States is wasted because it's spilling up where it's not needed. Light that's going up is not illuminating anything," Adams says.

And this pollution affects not only our view, but our energy bills. According to Adams it costs $2.2 billion a year in light that is simply spilling up.

To find out how parks across the state are celebrating International Dark Sky Week, visit michigan.gov/stateparks