International Dark Sky Park Designation Application

Current Status of Application:
Full Endorsement of Keweenaw Dark Sky Park Certification by the IDA, June 6, 2022


With the remoteness of the Keweenaw, and specifically the top of the Keweenaw, along with the wilderness feel of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge (KML) setup, it makes KML an ideal spot to enjoy the night sky and stargaze.

With that in mind, we continue to work on our lighting situation and minimize our light footprint while still providing guests with a safe and warm experience. This goes hand-in-hand with the Stargazing (outdoor activities) we are building at the Lodge. The events / activities we have and will have in the future provide patrons to the resort the ability to view and learn more about the stars, and take in the clear starry skies, meteor storms, and even the Northern Lights (see our All-Sky Webcam and Northern Lights Webcam project).

As part of our dark sky activities, we are applying to be a designated International Dark Sky Park. This designation is administered by the International Dark Sky Association, which works “to protect the night skies for present and future generations”. There are around 100 certified dark sky parks around the world. We feel that the tip of the Keweenaw can be the next one, with the hub being at the resort.

Name: Keweenaw Dark Sky Park

Mission: To provide a “headquarters” at the top of the Keweenaw which fosters the ability of individuals to see the stars and educate the public about the benefits of dark skies in the Northwoods of Michigan.

Current Version

Application progress / schedule:

Taken on the KML golf course, Hole 9, April 4, 2021, at 1am, by KML staff member, Nick Niffin

Letters of Support

The following organizations and individuals have shown their support for our Dark Sky Park application. We appreciate their support during the application process, and we look forward to fostering the appreciation of seeing the stars in the wilderness going forward together. [ Listed in the order by date ]

If you would like to show your support for the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park application, or get involved in future activities associated with stargazing, you can email John Mueller.

Sky Quality Measurements

As part of our IDA application, we regularly take sky quality measurements. We use a Unihedron SQM light meter to take these measurements.

As of November 4, 2021, we have taken 368 readings in 2021 (February – November 2021), with an average reading of 21.50 using all the data points, and 21.60 when removing the outliers.

Below is a link to the spreadsheet where we store the data for our sky quality measurements (last updated May 31, 2022, containing 500 readings)

Part of determining the sky quality is to understand if there are any light dome effects in the vicinity. This requires taking horizon photos. Below is a horizon image which was taken from hole 4 on the property on December 12, 2021 between 2:25am and 4:05am ET (taken by KML team member, Tom Oliver). This image is a spherical panorama merge of 24 photos.

Click on the image to view and download a high quality version of this image (~86mb).

On the night these photos were taken the temperature was 28°F, with a relative humidity of 81%. Winds were SSW 15 knots, guesting to 30 knots. Moonset was at 01:40 EST moonrise was 14:09 EST. Astronomical twilight began at 6:38 and ended at 18:52. The camera used to take the images was a Canon 7D Mark II, with Canon EFS 17-55mm lens [@17mm (w/ sensor 1.6x crop factor = 27.2mm). The camera details and settings are as follows:

  • Camera: Canon 7d Mark ii
  • Lens: Canon EFS 17-55mm [@17mm (w/ sensor 1.6x crop factor = 27.2mm)]
  • Aperture: f2.8
  • ISO: 3200
  • Shutter: 15 sec
  • White Balance: Daylight (5500K)
  • Color Profile: sRGB
  • Post-processing: Lightroom Classic:
    • Lens Correction to remove vignetting
    • Spherical Panorama Merge of 24 images

If you would like to know how dark your skies are, goto globeatnight.org to find out how dark your skies are.

Lighting Guidelines

The International Dark-Sky Association has specific guidelines for lighting in order to foster dark skies. We follow those guidelines at the Lodge and as part of our goal of establishing the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park as an International Dark Sky Park.

Learn more about the light changes we have been working on: Watch a recording of the Dark Sky Light Management Workshop with Mike Miller on Nov 3rd, 2021.

As well, you can read the resolution that the Lodge put in place on December 6, 2021 confirming the organization’s commitment to fostering the dark skies at the top of the Keweenaw:

Corporate Resolution

We have drafted a corporate resolution supporting the Dark Sky Park. This has further solidified the dark sky initiatives that the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge’s dark sky initiatives and intent for fostering stargazing activities at the top of the Keweenaw.  The resolution is officially recorded with the company’s official documents, being a signed corporate resolution by its sole member — approved and adopted on December 6th, 2021. 

Media Coverage

Below are articles that media outlets in Michigan have published related to this application for the dark sky park designation:

Notes

  • We have registered the domain, keweenawdarksky.com, to be used for the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park activities. As we develop this further, we plan to build out the dark sky park activities on that website / domain. At this time, the domain redirects to our Outdoor Activities -> Stargazing page.
  • Currently there are two other locations in the state of Michigan that are certified international dark sky parks:  Headlands International Dark Sky Park and Dr. T. K. Lawless International Dark Sky Park. In addition to our initiative to be a designated dark sky park, there are three (3) other areas in Michigan that are applying to be a dark sky park are:  Beaver Island, Belle Isle Park, and Lutz Park.
  • And a list of Michigan State Parks that have a focus on dark skies and stargazing, and that are designed dark sky preserves, can be found here: .  [ note: DNR Dark Sky Preserves. Note: There is currently legislation in the State of Michigan that doesn’t allow state parks in the U.P. to be designated as an International Dark-Sky Park. ]
  • Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau Dark Sky Page
  • Pure Michigan’s Dark Sky Page

Versions of the Application

 

Footnotes:

Changed name from “Keweenaw Dark Sky Wilderness” to “Keweenaw Dark Sky Park” per the request of the Dark Sky Places review committee (February 15, 2022)

 

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Last modified on July 5th, 2022 at 5:56 am