Harvest Moon Dark Sky Cruise part of Lake Huron Discovery Tour

As part of this year’s Lake Huron Discovery Tour celebration, the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan are teaming up to offer a Harvest Moon Dark Sky Cruise on Oct. 6. Northeast Michigan has some of the best dark sky viewing in the country with three state designated Dark Sky Preserves along the shores of Lake Huron.

Passengers will be able to watch the sun set at 7:04 p.m. and shortly thereafter watch the October Harvest moon rise. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox (Sept. 22), and will be at 99 percent fullness on Oct. 6th.

According to EarthSky, around the time of the full Harvest Moon, the lag time between successive moon rises is reduced to a yearly low. It is called Harvest Moon because before modern lighting on tractors, it helped farmers gather their crops despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night.

Thaddeus LaCoursiere, Besser Museum Planetarium director, will narrate the Harvest Moon Dark Sky Cruise. Prior to joining the museum staff, he worked in the planetarium at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science for four years, creating programming and teaching astronomy. He has a degree in philosophy and museum studies from the University of New Mexico.

The evening will begin at 6:15 p.m. with a prelude to the cruise at the Besser Museum Planetarium for those who would like a preview of what they will be exploring under the stars during the cruise.

Ticket holders should be at the NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center boarding area along the Thunder Bay River side by 6:45 p.m. to board the Lady Michigan.

To ensure the best dark sky exploration experience for all, only 60 tickets will be available for the event. The program on the boat will include two sessions on the upper deck for 30 people at a time. Hot apple cider, doughnuts and other fall favorites will be served on the heated lower deck, along with maritime and star-gazing music and trivia. Michigan wine and beer will be available for sale.

Tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased online at alpenashipwrecktours.com, at the Sanctuary Store (500 W. Fletcher) or by phone at 884-6200. Purchased tickets can be picked up at the Sanctuary Store prior to boarding. If tickets are still available, they can be purchased prior to boarding as well, but in case the cruise sells out, interested parties are encouraged to call in advance to check availability and/or reserve tickets.

If lake conditions require cancellation of the boat cruise, programming will still take place indoors, and possibly on the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center roof deck with telescopes from the Besser Museum if weather permits. Rainchecks for a future boat cruise will be provided to ticket holders at the Sanctuary Store. All proceeds will benefit education programs at the Besser Museum and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

For additional information about the Besser Museum, call 356-2202, or visit bessermuseum.org. To learn about the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, call 884-6210 or visit thunderbayfriends.org.

This event is being held as part of the third annual Lake Huron Discovery Tour, which is coordinated by volunteers on behalf of Michigan Arts and Culture Northeast (MACNE). Its goal is to attract visitors from near and far to explore the rich array of arts, cultural, historical and natural assets along the US-23 Heritage Route, from Standish to Mackinaw City.

Local communities and organizations are planning a variety of festivals and events, and showcasing destinations such as museums, art galleries, light houses, historical buildings, monuments, outdoor trails and more. To plan a self-guided tour, visit www.US23HeritageRoute.org or www.facebook.com/LakeHuronDiscoveryTour.