This Labor Day weekend is forecast to bring the northern lights over Alpena! This special phenomenon is known as the Aurora Borealis and is more commonly referred to as the “northern lights”.

Typically seen throughout Canada and Alaska, the Aurora Borealis will be able to be seen as far south as the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Michigan (that’s us!). Right now the weather is calling for mostly clear skies for Saturday night, so hopefully, we will see a spectacular show!

Night sky at Rockport State Recreation Area by Paul Gerow Photography

Night sky at Rockport State Recreation Area by Paul Gerow Photography

“The Aurora Borealis could make an appearance over northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula late Saturday night or very early Sunday morning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Auroras occur when solar wind particles interact with earth’s magnetosphere, then collide with other particles in the atmosphere and release energy to create the dazzling color display we know as the northern lights.” Detroit Free Press author, Emma Keith

In order to get a really great view of the aurora borealis, light pollution should be at a minimum.

If you are lucky enough to be in Alpena over the weekend, being miles away from any major metropolitan area gives Alpena a unique advantage for those who enjoy the mysteries revealed in the night sky. Our lack of concentrated light pollution makes the cosmos appear crisp and clear. With Alpena as your base camp, dark lands exploration abounds at our three designated Dark Sky Preserves:

  • Rockport State Recreation AreaGPS: 45.202386, -83.384044 11 miles north of Alpena via US-23 N. to Rockport Rd. Follow Rockport Rd. to the end.
  • Negwegon State ParkGPS: 44.865832, -83.327580 20 miles south of Alpena on US-23. US-23 S. to Black River Rd. Follow Black River Rd. east 1.5 miles, turn north on Sand Hill Rd. and go 2.5 miles, turn east at Negwegon State Park sign and go 1.5 miles to the day-use parking area.
  • Thompson’s Harbor State ParkGPS: 45.335465, -83.603988 26 miles north of Alpena on US-23 N.

Northern lights visibility range, by ABC57 News Channel

Light pollution at these parks is among the lowest measured in the Great Lakes. Stars, Aurora Borealis, meteors, planets, and moons await your discovery! Print out or download our Dark Sky Adventure Guide before you go.

(Cover photo of northern lights by Paul Gerow Photography)