Friday, October 10, 2014

‘The Hero’s Meteor Shower’ Next Dark Sky Park Program at the Headlands Friday, Oct. 17

Date: Friday, Oct. 17, 2014
Location: Guest House at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Mackinaw City (15675 Headlands Road, Mackinaw City)
Time: 8-10 p.m.

The Orionid Meteor Shower takes its name from the constellation Orion, which, to the Ancient Egyptians, was related to the mighty god of the dead, Osiris. For the Ancient Greeks, Orion was a great hunter who also chased after the Pleiades; and in the realm of the fairy tale, he becomes the mighty giant whom Jack encounters once he trades his cow for a handful of beans. Join us as we weave the cultural tales of humanity into the shooting stars overhead, as we approach the peak of the Orionid Meteor Shower Friday, October 17, from 8 to 10 pm.

In addition to the stories linked to the Orionid Meteor Shower, there will be a presentation on the parent comet of the Orionids, the famous Halley’s Comet, which is the parent of at least two meteor showers we experience overhead through the course of the year.

“When Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) introduced humanity to the idea that the Earth orbits the Sun in the mid 1500s a great deal shifted in our understanding about what causes the celestial phenomena happening around the Earth,” said Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams. “And one of the most interesting shifts has to do with our understanding of what causes meteor showers to occur. Prior to the time of Copernicus, it was held that meteor showers were as mighty gifts, streaming earthward from the regions of the constellations where the great heroes of humanity have their home. Once the Copernican thought took hold and humanity learned to believe that Earth is moving through the celestial environment, the heroes of the night sky disappeared, and now, contemporary astronomers describe meteor showers as resulting simply from Earth moving through the trail of stuff sloughed off by comets when they whiz through our planetary system.” Still, meteor showers are the stuff of wonder and awe and making wishes, and because telescopes do not enhance their viewing, meteor showers provide great opportunity for storytelling.

“The Orionid Meteor Shower is visible from as early as October 2nd and can be seen all the way to November 7th. They peak around October 21st, so we have timed our program to coincide with a weekend night as we approach the peak of the shower, to prepare ourselves with story and understanding, so that when the peak occurs, we know what to look for, and what time to look,” Adams continued.

Program will occur indoors and out, rain, snow or shine, so dress for the weather, bring something suitable for sitting on outdoors, and join us with family and friends under the deep clear October skies at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

Questions? Call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email

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. Visit for programs and more information, email, 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, use the contact information above.

No comments: