Best time to travel to Michigan

Stargazing in Michigan 2024

Shrouded with lakes, Michigan offers an unparalleled dark sky experience

Best time: all year round (best in March–early December)

Stargazing
Stargazing
Stargazing
Milky Way

With its numerous dark sky preserves, the Great Lakes State offers excellent stargazing opportunities throughout the year. Yet, the starry display alters with the seasons, as our planet spins on its axis.

When to go stargazing in Michigan

Most highlights appear between March and early December. For example, if you go stargazing in spring, watch for the glorious Orion nebula. Then, summertime is famous for the splendid Milky Way. Later in the season, you can enjoy the Perseid meteor shower. Next, the Draconids, Orionids, and Leonids show up in the fall months. And finally, the Geminids close the celestial parade in early winter.

Best stargazing in Michigan

Choosing one place from the dozens of stellar spots available in Michigan might be somewhat complicated. Yet, we've pointed out our top three for avid stargazers.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park

Upper Peninsula is considered the best area to relish in prolific constellation shows. Headlands International Dark Sky Park, situated between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, often rates Michigan's number one stargazing destination. Visit a local observatory to see the stars from the 18 ft (6 m) dome and capture the heavenly bodies through a 20 in (50 cm) PlaneWave telescope. The park operates 24 hours a day and grants free admission. As a bonus, you can also hop aboard a Night Sky Cruise departing from Mackinaw City dock—these trips are the most impressive in August and September.

Alpena

Our next suggestion is the northwest city of Alpena, set on the Thunday Bay of Lake Huron. Its convenient location between Negwegon State Park and Rockport State Park allows a comfortable stay in the city combined with an unforgettable camping adventure in one of the surrounding dark sky parks. This area is praised for some of the lowest light pollution measured on the Great Lakes.

Lake Hudson Recreation Area

Even though northern Michigan is more popular for stargazing, you can likewise find a decent site in the south of the state at the Michigan-Ohio border. Many favor Lake Hudson Recreation Area for its neat beach, picnic area, and equally dramatic night sky spectacle.

For more detailed information on visiting the Headlands, Alpena, or Lake Hudson, we recommend checking the destinations' official websites listed in the External Resources below. Additionally, we invite you to look at the map featuring accommodations nearby and book your stay in advance.

Practical info

When is the best time to go stargazing in Michigan?

Between March and early December, various astronomical events occur in Michigan. Stargazers can witness the Perseid meteor shower in late summer, the Geminids in early winter, and other events depending on the season. The visitors should consider the frigid Michigan weather during the winter season, which would not be ideal for stargazing. Show more

Where is the best place to go stargazing in Michigan?

Michigan harbors many dark sky preserves that provide incredible stargazing opportunities, and visitors have numerous options, including Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Lake Hudson Recreation Area, and Alpena. Visitors may camp in these parks to have an all-night stargazing experience. First-time visitors must gather critical information about the weather and light pollution conditions to aid their choice of stargazing destination. Show more

What can you see when stargazing in Michigan?

Michigan's stargazing opportunities vary by season. Stargazers may witness the Orion Nebula during spring and the Milky Way during summer. The fall brings with it meteor showers such as the Draconids, Orionids, and Leonids. Michigan's dark skies make it a suitable destination to view several constellations and stars, which are difficult to spot in highly populated areas. Show more

Are there any accommodations near Michigan's top stargazing locations?

Michigan's top stargazing destinations are not far from optimal accommodations options. Headlands International Dark Sky Park offers campsites and an adjacent hotel. Lake Hudson Recreation Area has cabins and campsites for visitors, whereas Alpena has various motels and hotels. Visitors should book their accommodations in advance and verify the relevant details on each destination's official website. Show more

Is there an admission fee for the top stargazing locations in Michigan?

Michigan's top stargazing destinations like Headlands International Dark Sky Park have free entry 24/7. However, certain activities may require additional charges, such as Night Sky Cruise. Visitors must review the official website of the destination beforehand to learn more about the involved costs of other events or facilities. Show more

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