The best show in Michigan this summer won't be on any screen. It'll take place directly above your head during one of the 'Star Parties' at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

I don't think anyone really grasps how cool the night sky looks until they get out of the light pollution zones of the city. This last summer was a great one for star gazers all around Michigan. There were so many meteor showers, and rare moons that it was hard to miss it.

One night during a meteor shower I packed everyone up in the car and drove to the darkest area I could find (within reason) on the light pollution map. My family was less than thrilled with me when we stopped in the middle of a deserted looking road. I pulled off into the field and put a blanket down.

Just for the record, nobody was happy with my decisions so far. 

I convinced them to lay down and just watch the sky for a little bit. It was about five minutes in before my 10 year old mentioned that she had never seen so many stars. Then the first meteor went by, followed by another, and another. Each one bigger and brighter than the next. Nobody said a word other than, "WHOA! DID YOU SEE THAT!?"

If you've never taken time to find a dark place, and I mean dark as in no light pollution type of dark. Then you owe it to yourself to make the trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes for one of the star parties.

According to the Free Press there will be multiple parties this year, and you can see the dates below. Plan on bringing a flashlight, blanket, bug spray, lawn chairs, and binoculars when you go. The park will have telescopes and astronomers on hand to talk about  the different constellations that you can see that night.

May 25 (9:00-11:00 p.m.) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Binary stars, brighter deep sky objects.

June 8 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Solar viewing in the afternoon; later, Moon, Mars, and Jupiter.

July 6 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Solar viewing in the afternoon; at twilight, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn.

August 10 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Location: Thoreson Farm. Highlights: Solar viewing in the afternoon, followed by the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, plus some brighter deep sky objects.

August 31 (4:00-6:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 p.m.) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Solar viewing in the afternoon; evening, Jupiter, Saturn, summer Milky Way.

September 21 (9:00-11:00 p.m.) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Jupiter, Saturn, summer Milky Way.

October 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m.) Location: Dune Climb. Highlights: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 49th Anniversary Star Party. Saturn early; after dark, Pleiades, northern Milky Way.

All Star Party events are free, though a visitor’s pass ($25 per vehicle, good for seven days) is required for entry to the park.