Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Headlands

As I mentioned previously, I'd heard about The Headlands earlier this year.  I'd intended to go up, but something came up and I didn't make.  Melissa Squires mentioned it recently and I decided to head up there.

I put off leaving because the weather was iffy.  In fact, I've been plagued with dull skies all summer.  It seems when I've had a chance to get out and get something done, it has been raining or just a dreary overcast.  The forecast for the area was clear until 2am, at which point it was supposed to cloud over and start raining.

It is easy to get to The Headlands.  Take Central out of Mackinaw City heading west.  When you get to the stop sign a couple of miles out of town, turn left go a half mile or so south and the park entrance will be on your right.  The one mile drive through the woods will deposit you a short walk from Lake Michigan.

The Headlands is a International Dark Sky Park.  There are three levels of this designation you can receive; Gold, Silver and Bronze.  The Headlands receives a Silver rating. 

I was unaware of the different ratings and thought that the area would be devoid of light and that Mackinaw City might show some light but that it would be pretty well limited due to the size of the city and the proximity of the intervening trees.

Although I knew there were two buildings to rent, I don't know that I expected this.  It really diminished that status of a 'Dark Sky Park' rating in my book.  Not because there was a building on the shoreline.  It was because that while there were a few lights to my along the shoreline, this thing was two hundred yards down the beach and was alive with light. 

As you can see, the clouds arrived early.

There were a lot of people there.  In the center of the picture in the distance there is a fire circle with a bunch of benches there.  A bunch of us sat there just watching the sky and talking as the sun set.  For most, it was their first time at the park and some had come from as far as Indianapolis and Columbus.

Since it seemed that the clouds were going to obscure the skies, most of us headed back to the car.  The temperature which had been in the mid 50s had dropped into the mid 40s.

It had been a long day so I crashed in my car for a bit and was planning on heading out after a quick nap.  When I woke up, the skies had cleared so I headed back out to the beach and took some pictures. 

The Pleiades. They're the small group of stars in the center.  I'm still learning a lot about night photography, but it is something that interests me a great deal.  With the clearing skies came drop in temperature.  And while I had been smart enough to switch to jeans and my jacket, I still wasn't prepared for the mid 30s. By the time it got dark I was pretty cold and the low temperatures meant that I didn't stay out nearly as long as I'd intended.

I also need to do some experimentation with my camera and see what works and what doesn't.  This is the only picture that shows up correctly on the blog.  The others show up as black or with too much noise so this is all there is for now.

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