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As summer comes to a close the upcoming Labor Day weekend may be some of the last opportunities to travel north and experience some of the beautiful summer weather that Michigan has to offer. A new opportunity this weekend, however, is that some travelers may be lucky enough to see some auroras in the night sky as far south as the Sleeping Bear Dunes or Alpena; possibly even down as far south as Ludington!

Seeing an aurora with just your own eyes may be difficult as a novice aurora hunter. We spoke with Peggy Zinn from the Michigan Aurora Hunters to get some tips for first time viewers. “Most of the time aurora will appear like a funny, whitish cloud on the horizon, or even a very faint glow, not as brightly colored as in pictures,” said Zinn. However, you may be able to capture the colors on a newer cell phone during a very bright storm.

If you’re planning a trip especially to see the aurora this weekend here’s a list of a few places that you can go to for premier viewing:

  • Headlands International Dark Sky Park (Emmet County)
  • Wilderness State Park Mackinaw City (Emmet County)
  • Isle Royal National Park (Keweenaw County)
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Leelanau and Benzie Counties- the park requests you go to Platte River Beach, Esch Beach, or Good Harbor for the safest areas to view the aurora)
  • Rockport State Recreation Area (Alpena County)
  • Thompson’s Harbor State Park (Alpena County)
  • Negwegon State Park (Alcona and Alpena Counties)
  • Port Crescent State Park (Huron County)
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Chippewa and Luce Counties)

Ultimately though, “all you really need is somewhere with dark skies and a clear view of the north,” said Zinn. But we also want to remind aurora hunters that you should make sure that you are staying safe while your eyes are on the sky. This includes making sure that you are wearing a reflective item while moving through parking lots and making sure that you are not stopping on the side of the road near traffic to try and view auroras. If you need to use a flashlight please announce it so that other photographers can finish getting their shots.

Since the season for hunting auroras is coming a bit early this year the upcoming weekend provides a great opportunity to add some new sightseeing opportunities to your travels! “Labor Day week we should have a pretty good show”, said Zinn; and we hope you get to enjoy it! Have a safe weekend traveling and happy Labor Day from Scenic Michigan!