SW MI park 2nd in state to receive dark sky designation

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NEWBERG TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A southwest Michigan park is only the second in the state to be officially certified as a dark sky park.

The Dr. T.K. Lawless Park in Cass County was notified last week that it had received the designation from the International Dark-Sky Association.

The park is east of Cassopolis, between Vandalia and Jones.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City was the first in Michigan to be certified.

Robert Parrish, a Cass County Parks board member and an advocate for International Dark-Sky Association, led the application process.

“The final application was over 60 pages and we have been working on it for close to two and a half years,” Parrish said. “We had to go through an inventory of all our lights.”

Parrish wanted to spearhead the effort in honor of his father who had inspired his passion for the stars.

“It allows people to see the stars that many people cannot see anymore because of light pollution,” Parrish said.

Cass County Parks Director Scott Wyman says it is an honor to become the second park in the state to receive the certification.

“We’re one of 66 properties in the United States with that designation,” Wyman said.  

Dark sky events can bring in hundreds of people and the park director hopes that will be a boost to the local economy.

“We also are home to the Michiana Astronomical Society’s annual star gazing event that happens every year so we already knew that Dr. Lawless was a great place to view the stars based on their input,” Wyman said.  

Amateur astronomers like Parrish say the park is perfect for enjoying the beauty of the night’s sky.

“We’re around 860 or so acres and topographically we’re down a little bit in the lay of the land, which helps block out light from surrounding areas,” Parrish said.

If you would like to view the stars, the park is holding Discover Winter Nights events on Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Feb. 8th.

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