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May the Darkest Towns Win!

Logo for Lights Out challenge.

Lights are going out in Northern Michigan. On August 11, two competitions will pit neighboring towns in Emmet County against one another in the annual Lights Outs Challenge! From 10:30-11:30 p.m., residents, businesses and visitors in the communities of Petoskey and Harbor Springs, and Mackinaw City and St. Ignace will be turning off their lights to see which towns can go the darkest.

“We’re asking everyone to shut their lights off for one hour and take the opportunity to reconnect with the sky above,” said Mary Stewart Adams, the Headlands Dark Sky Park Program Director.

Residents of Emmet County are no strangers to dark skies. The area is home to the Headlands, an IDA International Dark Sky, and the county actively works to protect their night skies.

“The motivating intent behind this event is to raise awareness about the effective use of light at night. The more participation we have, the more we can effect positive change in the way we steward the vanishing natural resource of the night sky,” Adams said.

The event is timed to coincide with the very active Perseid Meteor Shower, one of the most popular meteor showers of the year. Participants show their support by signing a Lights Out Pledge and posting it on the windows of their residence or business.

“It’s free, it’s full of fun good will, it saves money, and provides a great way to get to know your neighbors,” Adams said. “Getting in touch with the night sky stirs something almost intangible in the human being – that place in each of us where we have a deep longing for wonder.”

How It Works

Step one: Prior to the event, designated Emmet County staff will measure the sky quality, using a Sky Quality Meter that registers darkness levels, in St. Ignace and in Mackinaw City, and Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

Step two: Residents, business owners and visitors pledge to turn out the lights and plan for an evening in the dark!

Step three: Lights out! May the Darkest Towns Win!

The winning community from each pair of towns will receive media recognition and an award from Emmet County. Winners will be announced on August 14, 2015. Stayed tuned!

To learn more about the event or to participate, visit the Headlands website.

And the drum roll, please …

Learn which towns won the 2015 Lights Out Challenge here!