2023 Star Party Schedule at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Star Gazers at Sleeping Bear Dune Climb Star Party

Visitors gaze at the sky beside an astronomer and large telescope at the Dune Climb in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Join park rangers and astronomers from the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) at the Dune Climb parking lot Saturday, April 29, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m., for the first Star Party of the 2023 season. The earlier portion of the event will have fun daytime activities and solar viewing for youth and families to enjoy while the later portion will be primarily focused on dark sky viewing once the sun goes down. Visitors should be aware that while the GTAS members will take a break from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m., rangers will be on-site and available for the entire duration of the event.

Highlights for dark sky viewing during the Star Party will include the first quarter moon, Venus, Mars, and open star clusters. Later in the evening under even darker skies, globular clusters and part of the Milky Way may be visible. The potential for seeing the northern lights remains high at this time.

Astronomy Party

The Big Guns come out at Star Party 2010

Additional Star Parties for 2023 are planned on the following dates (exact start and end times will be announced at a later date):

  • Saturday, May 27
  • Saturday, June 24
  • Tuesday, July 25
  • Saturday, August 19
  • Friday, September 15
  • Saturday, October 21

When arriving at the Dune Climb, please park in the row furthest from the dunes with your headlights facing M-109. Volunteers will be assisting with parking. Be sure to stop by the Lakeshore’s Bear Force One van in front of the Dune Climb for more information about the activity stations and their locations.

All sky programs offered by the National Lakeshore are free. Participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. Programs will be cancelled if the sky is not visible due to weather conditions. The decision to cancel is usually made two hours in advance. Please call 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision.

For all evening astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed. You are welcome to bring your own binoculars, beach chairs, and blankets for a more comfortable experience, and water is always recommended for National Park Service (NPS) programs. For more information about the GTAS, go to their website.