The Storyteller's Night Sky

Every Monday morning at 6:31 and 8:31, IPR News Radio looks into the night sky with Mary Stewart Adams, former Program Director and founder of the International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, who has been telling stories of the night sky on IPR since 2013. 

Dark Sky Park: The Northern Lights

Mar 19, 2014

Spring is a magical time of year with the Sun shining brighter and for longer periods of time. It's also time for the Aurora Borealis, a phenomenon best-known as the Northern Lights.   

Dark Sky Park: First Day Of Spring

Mar 13, 2014

March 20th is the first day of Spring, or the Vernal Equinox. One sign of Spring is the rise of the star Arcturus, one of the oldest known named stars. To see this star find the big dipper and follow the arc of its handle to Arcturus.   

Dark Sky Park: Mars, Spica and Aladdin's Lamp

Feb 28, 2014

During March, the path of Mars will bring it 15 million miles closer to Earth. It moves through Virgo with its star Spica; the Star of Abundance. In some cultures, Spica is known as a solitary lamp making the tale of Aladdin suitable for the season. Read Aladdin's story here

Dark Sky Park: Brothers

Feb 20, 2014

On this segment of "The Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky," Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams talks about brothers as seen in the night sky and in storytelling. The Gemini Twins are named Castor and Pollux and one star follows the other in the night sky. In literature, the Brothers Grimm's "The Two Brothers" make their way in a challenging world. Read "The Two Brothers" here.  

Dark Sky Park: 50 Moons Of The Olympiad

Feb 12, 2014

On this edition of "The Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky," Dark Sky Park program director Mary Stewart Adams talks about the mythology at the root of the Olympic rhythm of four years. The rhythm is based on a story of love and the moon. The full moon takes place on Valentine's Day, when the Olympics are being held. 

Dark Sky Park: The Star Capella

Feb 6, 2014

On this edition of "The Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky," Dark Sky Park program director Mary Stewart Adams discusses the star Capella. It's one of the brightest objects in the sky this season. Mary talks about how various ancient cultures interpreted the star.   

Dark Sky Park: The Chinese New Year

Jan 30, 2014


The New Moon on January 30 triggers the lunar new year in the Chinese calendar and ushers in two full weeks of celebration. Chinese tradition differs from Western tradition in that, in China, the astrological tradition moves year by year instead of the Western model which moves month by month. 

Dark Sky Park: Catherine And Her Destiny

Jan 21, 2014

The moon will move past Saturn and the southern scale of Libra on Friday, bringing to mind fairy tales of weighing, testing and endurance. One example is the fable, "Catherine and Her Destiny." The story is told here. 

Dark Sky Park: Venus, The Morning Star

Jan 17, 2014

Starting now, the Morning Star isn't a star at all but the planet Venus. To ancient Romans Venus "matured" the mysteries of the night skies. In ancient Egypt, Venus was related to Isis, the bringer of new life.    

Dark Sky Park To Get Observatory

Jan 17, 2014
courtesy of Petoskey architect Rick Neumann

Visitors to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park will have a new vantage point to see the stars. The park is getting an observatory. Emmet County commissioners moved the project forward at last night’s board meeting.

It will replace the Beach House. Emmet County Commission board chair, Jim Tamlyn says officials had first considered renovating the historic summer home.

"The price tag on that was approaching a million dollars to do all of the rehab that the building needed," he said. "No one wanted to take the building down. But there was really no use for it."


On this edition of "The Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky," Dark Sky Park director Mary Stewart Adams discusses the moon moving between the star clusters Pleiades and Hyades. In ancient times it was said this event brought about heavy rains. The mythical Hyas, son of Atlas, is associated with this celestial event. Upon Hyas' death he was placed in the sky as Aquarius. 

Dark Sky Park: Year Of The Meteor Shower

Jan 3, 2014


IPR: Now that we're nearly one week into the New Year can you share what the celestial highlights are for the coming year?

MARY: Some of the most popular celestial events in any year are the meteor showers and this is because we can predict when they'll occur but we can't always predict what we'll see. There are actually three dominant meteor showers that most people are familiar with: The Quadrantids, which occur here in January, the Perseids, which occur in August, and the Geminids which happen in mid-December every year. 

Dark Sky Park: Comet Lovejoy

Dec 13, 2013

MARY: Each year there are many comets that visit our inner solar system (the Astronomical Almanac lists 42 anticipated in 2013) but most of them are very faint.

We've had some big news makers with Comet PANSTARRS in March and then, most recently, Comet ISON which fizzled out after it came close to the Sun on Thanksgiving Day. 

Dark Sky Park: The Feast Of St. Nicholas

Dec 5, 2013

IPR: Friday, December 6 is the Feast of St. Nicholas who is largely regarded as the individual behind the legend of Ole St. Nick and Santa Claus. Who was he really?

MARY: The legends of St. Nicholas are based on an actual individual, the Bishop of Myra (in modern-day Turkey), from the 3rd century. He was known for secret gift-giving and for multiplying abundance.

Dark Sky Park: December's New Moon

Nov 29, 2013

IPR: ISON has been all the rage of late, but what else can we look for in the night sky and its stories this week?

 MARY: The December New Moon arrives Tuesday, December 2nd. This is considered the beginning of the phase, and marks the onset of a period of the Moon grows in brightness, then so grows those things which we associate with 'moon'. 

Dark Sky Park: The Rod Of Aesculapius

Nov 21, 2013

IPR: According to the astronomy community Comet ISON is brightening to naked eye visibility but now it is coming closer to the Sun making it more difficult to see. What has been your experience with ISON?

Dark Sky Park: ISON and the Leonids

Nov 21, 2013


IPR: The news is heating up about Comet ISON. Why is ISON important?

Dark Sky Park: Cross-Quarter Days

Oct 24, 2013

IPR: We are one month into the season of Autumn but already we've experienced a blast of winter this week. How do the seasonal quarters relate to what's happening? 

MARY: During the last week of October each year we approach the point in the seasonal cycle that is referred to as "cross-quarter." This is the mid-point in the season which marks the halfway point between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. 

Historic Beach House To Be Demolished

Oct 11, 2013

A Beach House with some historic significance west of Mackinaw City will be torn down. Emmet County officials say it doesn’t serve the growing number of people using the county’s Dark Sky Park.

Officials estimate the Beach House needs more than a million dollars of work to bring it up to code. They left open the possibility for a private group or person to step forward with funds to save the building. But there were no takers.

County administrator Lyn Johnson says the plan is to build a new structure to handle several hundred people instead of several dozen.

Dark Sky Park: Antares

Oct 9, 2013

IPR: You're getting ready for a big event at Headlands with author Paul Bogard who wrote the book "The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in a World of Artificial Light" next week on the 18th. What makes this a good time of year for getting together to share stories in, and about, the dark?  

Dark Sky Park: The Mischievous Month of October

Oct 7, 2013

The Headlands International Dark Sky Park was pleased to participate in the inaugural MidWest Space Fest held over the weekend at the Traverse City ECCO Center. Guest speakers included Jerry Dobek, from Northwestern Michigan College and Mary Stewart Adams, Program Director for the Headlands, with keynote speaker, Dr Alex Filipenkko from UCLA, Berkeley discussing "Dark Energy."

Dark Sky Park: ISON

Sep 23, 2013

IPR: The astronomy news of Friday morning is that Comet ISON is appearing through telescopes just above the red planet Mars, looking east at dawn. What can you tell us about ISON?

MARY: I like to start with what the acronym ISON means. It stands for "International Scientific Optical Network" which is a group of observatories in ten countries that have organized to detect, monitor and track objects in space. It is managed, in part, by the Russian Academy of Sciences.