2024 Upper Peninsula Dark Sky Festival
April 11 - April 13
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The Keweenaw Dark Sky Park is hosting its second annual event around International Dark Sky Week. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) encourages people worldwide to discover the night during International Dark Sky Week. This annual week-long event aims to raise awareness about the negative impacts of light pollution, the solutions that exist and simultaneously celebrate the night.
The 2024 event will be held over April 11th, 12th, and 13th, and provides three days of learning. Events and workshops will be hosted at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, headquarters for the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park.
The event is intended for all ages of dark sky enthusiasts. The evening event on Thursday allows guests to check into their accommodations, have a meal and then take in the presentation. Friday and Saturday’s events in the afternoon allow guests to have a morning adventure and an afternoon and evening of learning. Below is the full schedule.
The schedule for the festival is as follows:
Thursday April 11, 2024:
- Thursday, April 11: 8:00pm – Opening Greetings from the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and Visit Keweenaw
- Thursday, April 11: 8:30pm – Stargazing in the Keweenaw by Jeremy Rowe and Chris Guibert
Friday April 12, 2024:
- Friday, April 12: 12:00pm – Rustic and Worldly Lunch – (included in your festival ticket purchase)
- Friday, April 12: 1:30pm – The Sky is the Limit: An Analysis of Emerging Astro-Tourism, Programming, and Advocacy Initiatives in the Public and Private Sectors
- Friday, April 12: 3:30pm – Postcards from the Universe: 2023-2024 via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day by Dr Robert Nemiroff
- Friday, April 12: 7:00pm – Meet and Greet
- Friday, April 12: 8:00pm – Northern Lights Photography Workshop by Nate Bett
- Friday, April 12: 9:30pm – Stargazing with Andrew Johnson and the OAC Team
Saturday April 13, 2024:
- Saturday, April 13: 12:00pm – Rustic and Worldly Lunch – (included in your festival ticket purchase)
- Saturday, April 13: 1:30pm – Embrace the Darkness by Melissa Kaelin
- Saturday, April 13: 3:30pm – Solar Secrets with highlights from the recent solar eclipse by MaryBeth Kiczenski
- Saturday, April 13: 7:00pm – Meet and Greet
- Saturday, April 13: 8:00pm – The Effects of Light pollution on Our World by Dave Falkner
As we get closer to the date, we will confirm this schedule.
Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
14252 US Hwy 41
Copper Harbor, Michigan 49918
Tickets for the festival are $200/ person. Tickets include admission to all presentations and the lunch on Friday and Saturday. Tickets will be on sale sometime in February.
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Rustic and Worldly Lunches
Each ticket to the festival includes two rustic worldly lunches; one on Friday and one on Saturday. When purchasing your ticket please state if you prefer the lunch with meat or the vegetarian option. Please note that there are no substitutions.
Friday Lunch Menu
In-house roasted chicken, pulled and served on a brioche bun with pesto spread (cilantro – basil – roasted jalapeno – lime -mayo), lettuce, and tomato. Served with a small side salad
Vegetarian: Not-your-mom’s falafel, side of hummus and naan bread. Served with a small side salad
Saturday Lunch Menu
Beef strips stir fried with KML Asian Sauce and vegetables served in a wrap with small cubes of roasted potatoes. Served with a small side salad
Vegetarian: Tofu and vegetables stir fried with KML Asian Sauce served on a brioche bun with a side salad.
Presentation and Activity Descriptions, with Speaker Bios
Title: Stargazing on the Keweenaw: Night Sky Locations Across the Peninsula
This presentation will be a guide to stargazing and northern light viewing spots across the Keweenaw. Jeremy will show pictures and tell stories of some of his night time adventures across the Keweenaw and share some of the better locations he’s discovered. He will also touch on some of the more remote stargazing destinations including Isle Royale and Manitou Island. A paper map with spots noted will be handed out at the beginning of the presentation for guests to make notes on. He will end on an artistic note with an acoustic song that is connected to the night sky.
About Jeremy Rowe
Jeremy Rowe is a local night sky photographer and musician. He has photographed the night sky of the Keweenaw for over a decade, his work can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/KeweenawNightSky/. Jeremy is also a talented musician with multiple albums under his belt. His songs weave themes of Americana and observations of life while living on the Keweenaw.
Title: The Sky is the Limit: An Analysis of Emerging Astro-Tourism, Programming, and Advocacy
Initiatives in the Public and Private Sector
When seeking opportunities to celebrate dark skies, the sky is the limit! Jamie Westfall, Park Manager at Headlands International Dark Sky Park, takes a look at exciting astro-tourism trends, as well as dark sky programming and advocacy initiatives in both the public and private sectors of the recreation and tourism industry.
About Jamie Westfall
Jamie is the Park Manager for Headlands International Dark Sky Park, as well as two other Emmet County Parks in Mackinaw City, MI. She is a Dark Sky Advocate with Dark Sky International, and a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional. She is a self-proclaimed “parks dork,” and recreation enthusiast.
Jamie’s favorite thing about working at the Headlands has been teaming up with astronomers, learning about dark sky conservation, and actively participating in the dark sky protection movement within the parks and recreation industry. [ View Jamie’s LinkedIn Profile ]
Title: Postcards from the Universe: 2023-2024 via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day
Some of the coolest images and videos from the popular NASA science website Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD: apod.nasa.gov) that appeared during 2023 and 2024 will be presented. The science and stories behind these images will be discussed. The images not only include the best of the Hubble and Webb space telescope, but also images taken from dark skies around the world. Topics include nebulae, aurorae, galaxies, the distant universe, the nearby Solar System, and more.
About Dr. Robert Nemiroff
Robert J. Nemiroff is a Professor of Physics at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Dr. Nemiroff is perhaps best known as a creator, writer, and editor for one of NASA’s most popular science websites: the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Dr. Nemiroff’s new book, “Faster than Light, How Your Shadow Can Do It but You Can’t”, is available from Amazon. [ View Robert’s Michigan Tech Profile ]
Title: Stargazing Adventure
Join Andrew Johnson and the KML Outdoor Activity Center (OAC) team for a guided night time interpretive hike. We will explore parts of the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park on boot or snowshoe. This will be a non-strenuous hike, most likely less than a mile. Recommended Items to bring: warm, layered clothing, night lights (red preferred), snow shoes, poles, goggles and an adventurous attitude.
Important Note: During this time of year, the weather conditions vary from a large amount of snow on the ground to no snow on the ground. So the snowshoe could turn into a hike with hiking boots.
About Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson is currently attending Central Michigan University (class of 2025). He is pursuing a Meteorology major with a minor in GIS (Geospatial Information System Mapping). His dream is to be a forecaster for the National Weather Service, or do a study in Space Weather, currently the Headlands International Dark Sky Park Staff Astronomer.
About the Outdoor Activities Team
Chris Guibert and Amy Oestreich from the Outdoor Activities Team will guide a snowshoe or traditional hike (dependent on the weather) on the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park grounds. [ See KML Team Members ]
Title: Embrace the Darkness: The Majesty of Dark Skies & Chasing Northern Lights
People around the world dream of viewing the Northern Lights, but there are many pieces of the puzzle when it comes to catching this elusive natural phenomenon. Dark skies are an essential piece of that puzzle, and how we preserve and interact with dark skies is key. It means the difference between witnessing a breathtaking display of dancing lights or staring into a dull haze.
About Melissa Kaelin
A lifelong nature enthusiast, Melissa F. Kaelin is an Aurora Chaser, writer and community leader. She founded the Michigan Aurora Chasers and co-founded the annual Aurora Summit, an international conference celebrating the art, culture, science and photography of the Aurora Borealis. As a NASA Social Media Ambassador, she covered the 2020 launch of the Solar Orbiter, which builds upon the science of the Parker Solar Probe to study and understand our Sun. She has written about rare natural phenomena for many publications, and in 2022, she published the book “Below the 45th Parallel: The Beginner’s Guide to Chasing the Aurora in the Great Lakes Region.” [ View Melissa’s LinkedIn Profile ]
Title: Solar Secrets
Wait a minute! How does the sun relate to the celebration of the night sky? We constantly encounter the Solar Wind as it interacts with our planet’s magnetosphere and ionospheric layer. We see this everyday when Airglow appears, or when a solar storm sparks one of nature’s greatest light displays – the Aurora Borealis! Here we will discuss and demystify our star’s different moods and phenomena. We will discuss solar flares, coronal mass ejections, radiation storms, and solar cycles. A handful of historically significant solar storms will be discussed, as well as their effects on the planet. Will wrap it up with some stories about the Total Solar Eclipse of April 8th!
About MaryBeth Kiczenski
Marybeth Kiczenski is a Great Lakes-based adventurer and photographer with an obsession for dark skies and northern lights.
Marybeth is also an automotive product specialist who travels on the show circuit, a job that has taken her to virtually all corners of the United States and sparked her extreme wanderlust. She says this world is full of beauty, waiting to be discovered, and that’s where the shift from automotive photography to landscapes and nightscapes happened.
Now that she has a few years experience, Marybeth loves to help others discover the beauty of the night sky! Seeing the delight that comes from capturing that first Milky Way brings her joy. As this connection to a starry dark sky has inspired many for generations. [ View MaryBeth’s Website ]
Title: Stargazing: Northern Lights Photography Workshop
The purpose of this workshop is to educate people on how to capture the beauty of the northern lights and the night sky on camera. Topics being covered include equipment needed, camera settings, and the best locations for viewing. These workshops will start out with a brief presentation (in the conference room), and then we will go outside for hands-on experience — taking pictures of the night time sky (hopefully northern lights) around the Lodge property (weather depending). With the information garnered from the workshop, it will make stargazing more enjoyable.
About Nate Bett
Nate Bett is a photographer and educator in Hancock Michigan. Although originally from Marquette, Michigan, Nathan recently relocated to Hancock from New York City, where he taught at the City University Of New York, and represented a major camera manufacturer as a technical specialist in photography. He now spends his time indulging in the over abundance of natural beauty in his native UP and spending excesses of time outdoors with his family. Nate maintains a passion for photography and the outdoors that he delights in sharing with students. His work can be viewed at nathanbett.com and @natebett and @artmonstermedia on Instagram.
Title: Ecology Hike
Join Tom on a guided snowshoe or walking hike (depends on weather) of the Keweenaw Nature Sanctuary. Tom will discuss some of the flora and fauna found along the hike. This morning excursion is limited to 15 participants so please call ahead to book this adventure.
About Tom Oliver
Tom is currently the director of the Michigan Tech University Center for Environmental Science and Outreach. Since he was a child, nature, wildlife, and the outdoors have always been his deepest fascination – the intrinsic force which drives him. Those interests led him through, both, his career (in wildlife ecology/management and science education) and his preferred forms of recreation (hiking, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking, photography, hunting and fishing, and birding). Although, he was born and raised in the UP, these pursuits also provided him the opportunity to live overseas (in Europe and Asia) for 15 years, which greatly expanded his experience with the outdoors and outdoor recreation in different cultures. Tom has been a passionate photographer, and has taught various photography workshops at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. His work can be viewed at teoliver.com and @theupwell on Instagram.
Title: The Effects of Light Pollution on Our World
This presentation will be about the growth of light pollution over the years and its impact on our ability to enjoy the night sky. It will weave a discussion of how human physiology and nature are affected by light pollution. Ideas will be presented of how individuals and communities can reduce light pollution including some success stories about communities who have adopted measures to reduce light pollution.
About Dave Falkner – NASA Solar System Ambassador
Dave has been a life-long amateur astronomer. He first became interested in astronomy as a pre-teen when his father took him to a show at the Holcolm Planetarium in Indianapolis. He became hooked and has had an interest in astronomy ever since.
After retiring from the US Navy, Dave settled in Minnesota and became an active member of the Minnesota Astronomical Society (MAS). He has served as its President from 2011 – 2014 and again from 2019 – 2020. As a member of the MAS, Dave enjoyed performing astronomical outreach often speaking to groups at libraries, nature centers and schools.
In 2011 Dave traveled to Tucson, AZ to view the Transit of Venus at the Mount Lemmon Observatory in Tucson and visited Kitt Peak National Observatory while he was there. In 2017 he traveled to Casper, WY to view the total eclipse of the Sun. In December 2022 Dave traveled to Chile to visit the US Research telescopes located there and became part of the Astronomy in Chile Educators Ambassador Program (ACEAP) educating the public about the telescopes and research astronomy being conducted there.
Dave is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador where he educates the public about space, space exploration and NASA missions in particular. Along with his outreach activities Dave has taught beginning Astronomy classes at a local community college and has published three books; two editions of “Mythology of the Night Sky” and the book “The Stories of Astronomers and Their Stars.” [ See Dave’s Ambassador Page ]
Cloudy Night Presentation:
Title: Experiences in Astrophotography: A personal narrative of the challenges and rewards associated with photographing subjects in motion from very, very far away
Headlands International Dark Sky Park Staff Astronomer, Andrew Johnson, shares his personal experience learning the art of astrophotography and how this passion changed the trajectory of his career goals. He will share equipment suggestions and educational opportunities for photographers with no prior background in astrophotography to get started.
Andrew will also bring some of his equipment to share with interested participants.
About Andrew Johnson
Andrew has been stargazing his whole life, but he has been interested in astronomy for the past four years. He enjoys astrophotography and teaching others using astrophotography and visual observation. He works seasonally as the staff astronomer at Headlands International Dark Sky Park. His work at the park allows him to engage with the public and teach astronomy by using telescopes; both visually, through an eyepiece, and using astrophotography; he also educates visitors on basic stars and constellations, physics concepts, and astronomy theories. At the park, he enjoys curious stargazers, the walks, the nights, and the overall environment it creates.
To date, his favorite image he’s captured was the Christmas Tree Cluster and Cone Nebula.
The dark sky park is in a remote area, so it is important for you to plan where you are going to stay before traveling. The following options are available for lodging in the area:
- Brockway Inn (Copper Harbor)
- Da Beach Cabin (Lac La Belle)
- Eagle Harbor Inn (Eagle Harbor)
- Fitzgerald’s (Eagle River)
- Keweenaw Mountain Lodge (host)
- Mariner North (Copper Harbor)
- Trails End Campground (Copper Harbor)
[ to see more Lodging options, go to Visit Keweenaw ]
The dark sky park is in a remote area, so it is important for you to plan where you are going to eat before traveling. The following options are available for food in the area:
- Eagle Harbor Inn (Eagle Harbor)
- Fitzgerald’s (Eagle River)
- Glacia Tavern (Mohawk)
- Keweenaw Mountain Lodge (host) – see the Lodge’s dinner options during the festival
- Mariner North (Copper Harbor)
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Last modified on March 3rd, 2024 at 9:16 am