State parks offering events around meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower will liven up the night skies this weekend, and a number of state parks will host a program for those who want to see the show.
The Department of Natural Resources’ “Meteors and S’mores” is a statewide event for anyone interested in seeing the natural phenomenon, Harrisville and Negwegon state parks Supervisor Eric Ostrander said. Those who watch the night skies this weekend could see meteors streaking across as often as every two to three minutes. Each park will have astronomy experts or enthusiasts to talk about our neck of the universe, and there will be campfires to roast marshmallows.
“The whole point of these evenings is to give people a different option to get into these parks,” he said. “Most of them have these big, open areas to see the sky.”
Since Northeast Michigan has a “hotbed” of state parks, there are plenty of local hosts to choose from, Ostrander said. On Friday, “Meteors and S’mores” is at Negwegon State Park near Black River. Clear Lake State Park employee Sherri Compeau said the park, located north of Atlanta on M-33, will host the event on Saturday. Rockport State Recreation Area, north of Alpena, and Harrisville State Park will host the program on Sunday. All start at 9 p.m., with the best meteor viewing later in the night.
Hoeft State Park, north of Rogers City, also will host the program on Saturday at 8 p.m., according to a press release.
Each state park or recreation area will have someone on hand to talk about astronomy, Ostrander said. Ashley Osterland, DNR recreation programmer, will be at Negwegon and Harrisville state parks on their respective nights, and Besser Museum Planetarium Director John Heath will be at Rockport on Sunday.
“You don’t need a telescope to see this, that’s the good thing,” Ostrander said. “It’s a program that I think everyone can enjoy.”
Along with taking advantage of a yearly celestial happening, Ostrander and others are hoping to use the program to promote an effort to keep the skies over certain state parks free from light pollution, he said. Two friends groups supporting Negwegon and Rockport want to see legislative action so these parks, or at least part of them, can get Dark Sky designation. This designation would affect how the DNR develops Rockport in the future, when planners decide where to put accommodations like campgrounds.
Recreation Passports are required, and can be purchased from state park offices, Ostrander said. At Negwegon, those who need one can fill out an envelope and drop it into the self-registration pipe. For Rockport, a DNR employee will be on hand from 8:30-9:30 p.m. on Sunday to sell the passports. They’re $11 annually for Michigan residents.