Presque Isle park offers dark sky viewing

%0ASenior+anthropology+major+Elena+Torongo+gazes+at+the+dancing+northern+lights+at+Presque+Isle.%0AReduced+light+pollution+will+create+views+such+as+these+in+the+designated+area+at+the+park.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Elena+Torongo

Senior anthropology major Elena Torongo gazes at the dancing northern lights at Presque Isle. Reduced light pollution will create views such as these in the designated area at the park. Photo courtesy of Elena Torongo

Isabela Ney

June 1st through Oct. 31 marks

the trial period for dark sky viewing at the Presque Isle park. Street

lights inside the park and in the
surrounding areas will be kept off
to allow stargazing without light
pollution. The Marquette City
Commission unanimously voted
to pass a resolution extending
park hours from the usual 11 p.m.

to 1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night this summer.

The dark sky park is designated to the pavilion area and

stretches down the trail to sunset

point. The road around the island will remain closed at night

to prevent visitors from walking

or driving near dangerous terrain and cliffs during dark hours.

Andrew MacIver, assistant director of Community Services, said

that public health and safety is the
city’s number one concern.

Last fall, the city allowed dark
sky viewing in the park and some
delinquent behavior was reported

after hours. In an effort to maintain control, police officers will

be in charge of closing all gates
to the park at 1 a.m. on weekend
nights. MacIver said the police
department played a big role in
the City Commission’s decision to
open the Upper Peninsula’s only
dark sky park.

There are few dark sky parks in
the world and the nearest one is
Headlands International Dark Sky

Park in Emmet County of
northern Michigan. Most of the
U.P. is like a dark sky park but
light pollution from the city can
make viewing stars difficult.

This is an opportunity for
Marquette residents to stargaze
closer to home. “It contributes to
a better quality of life to be able
to go down and view the night
sky especially for people living in
the city of Marquette who know
there is [a lot of] light pollution,”
MacIver said.

The idea for a dark sky park

came from the Marquette Astronomical Society. They approached the city about having it

at Presque Isle where light pollution from the city is already minimized.

After many meetings and a
long process of approval, the
Marquette City Commission

along with the Parks and Recreation Advisory board and other

city staff boards agreed on the

importance of giving citizens access to a dark sky park. The Peter

White Public Library is renting
out telescopes to those trying to
get a deeper glimpse into space.
“It’s another great recreational
and educational opportunity for
people,” said MacIver.

It is asked that people take
advantage of the city’s efforts to
maintain a dark sky park while
being both safe and responsible.

Proper disposal of trash and
avoiding dangerous areas may

turn this dark sky park trial period into a permanent feature of

summers in Marquette.