Mackinaw City Activities
Watch the Transit of Venus at the Headlands
Countdown to the Transit of Venus begins!
Once-in-a-lifetime celestial event will be visible from the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City on June 5, 2012
On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, a once-in-a-lifetime celestial occurrence, the Transit of Venus across the face of the sun, will be visible to many people around the globe, and one of the best viewing spots will be at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City.
In Northern Michigan, the Transit of Venus will be visible beginning after 5 p.m. To mark the occasion, Emmet County and its Dark Sky Park staff have planned an afternoon and evening of programs and entertainment centered around the transit.
The free events take place from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and will include a program by Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams; presentation by Northern Michigan Astronomy Club founder Bryan Shumaker; safe viewing glasses and telescopes; entertainment by local musicians and magician Jania Taylor; painting by local artist Jerry Douglas; vendors who have created special food dishes (for purchase); and additional educational opportunities.
In addition, the Headlands is partnering with Mackinaw’s Heritage Village, where parking will be available. The historic village is located just across the street from the Headlands, and a trolley shuttle service will be available every 15 minutes to bring visitors to the Beach House, where much of the programming and viewing will take place. Guests may also walk the approximate 1.5 mile path to the Beach House from the parking area.
Prior to the event, visitors are encouraged to tour the historic buildings of Heritage Village, some of which will be open. The Village is a project of the Mackinaw Area Historical Society and the Village of Mackinaw. Both the Headlands and Heritage Village are located about 2 miles west of downtown Mackinaw City.
The star of the day will be the planet Venus as it crosses the face of the sun, appearing as a black spot. This celestial phenomenon occurs in pairs separated by eight years; this specific transit won’t occur again for more than 105 years (December of 2117). It will be visible until sunset (9:24 p.m. local time).
"Given the historic nature of the Venus transit, it is important to mention that it's not just about viewing something unique in the sky, it's about honoring that part of life that moves in harmony with the cosmic rhythm,” said Adams. “At our event, we will provide telescopes, historic information, artistry, music, magic, and sacred space -- all elements that are essential to a rich life. Traditionally these are the things that belong to the realm of Venus, so it's an important part of community life to take a break and observe such things."
It is important to note that looking directly at the sun can cause instant damage to your vision, so protective eyewear designed specifically for gazing at the sun is necessary. During the event on June 5, protective eyewear will be provided, including glasses, individual pieces of welder's glass and telescopes with Sun filters.
All events and parking are free. Food will be available for purchase from vendors. Please note that this event takes place rain or shine; monitors and Internet connections will be set up inside the Beach House to witness the event at other locales in the event of inclement weather in Northern Michigan.
"Astronomers, both professional and amateur, stargazers, poets, teachers, astrologers, dreamers; it's hard to find an event that draws as many different kinds of people together," said Adams.
"Researchers of former centuries used these kinds of phenomena to confirm great mysteries such as the distance of the Sun from the Earth and the size of our solar system, while today they will use the light of Sun and Venus reflected off the back of the Moon to further their research about exo-planets. The rarity of such an event, and the role it has played in the cultural beliefs of ancient peoples, makes it something to go out of the way for."
Note: For technical information about the Transit of Venus, visit the NASA Web site, which describes it in detail: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/transit12.html; or www.transitofvenus.org.
The Headlands is a 600-acre park on the Straits of Mackinac, two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City, at 7725 E. Wilderness Park Dr. The park is free and open to the public every day. While no camping is allowed, visitors are welcome to stay overnight to observe the dark sky overhead. 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. More information: email email@example.com, or call (231) 348-1704.
The county sends regular email blasts as well with information about night-sky observation opportunities and celestial events; to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org