Dark Sky Island

55 sq miles of isolated darkness in the norther reaches of Lake Michigan

Beginning at sunset, deepening into evening’s rosy dusk, Beaver Island delivers all the glories of the night sky on an unmatched canvas of black. The Milky Way, meteor showers, galactic events, satellite flares, the Northern Lights and more. All in an atmosphere of quiet peace, little traffic, scenic areas, trails and waterways that mark your path to discovering the joy of relaxing under the stars.

We invite you to visit our island paradise that includes a specially recognized wilderness area dedicated to the protection of our natural environment including the uniquely dark skies overhead. The Beaver Island State Wildlife Research Area International Dark Sky Sanctuary is the first in Michigan, the 11th in the nation and just the 20th worldwide.  Prepare to be amazed. 

Welcome to the dark side.

The Milky Way in full view as a soft breeze passes through. Saturn and Jupiter welcome you to the night, their glow providing the perfect path for nature to find its way. Constellations known and new introduce themselves as you gaze into the dark sky. Quiet. Silence. Darkness.

Welcome to Beaver Island, Michigan.

Our Mission

We believe that darkness brings light, life, and health. Every decision made by every individual, whether a resident or a visitor, can positively or negatively affect the many delicate ecosystems on Beaver Island. By treasuring its complexities and respecting its fragility, we can protect life that thrives under dark skies through proactive communication, education, training, and structure.

The  Island’s INTERNATIONAL Dark Sky Sanctuary

An international dark sky sanctuary consists of public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment, and that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. The sanctuary encompasses the Beaver Island State Wildlife Research Area on the island (managed by the Michigan DNR) and Miller’s Marsh (owned by Central Michigan University and managed by the Little Traverse Conservancy). The sanctuary area features an unimpeded deep and dark night sky along with many other unique features due to its location and conservation efforts. Night sky quality is illustrated and documented with broad spectrum night sky photography, with SQM readings routinely darker than 21.6 magnitudes per square arcsecond in the visual band.

We’re proud of our numbers.

Beaver Island is unique in many ways. Our location in an inky dark spot in the middle of northern Lake Michigan gives some of the darkest night skies in the world. Sky quality measurements (SQM) are measured on a scale from 16 to 22 with 16 indicating maximum light polution and 22 indicating the absence of all light polution. Readings all over the island are consistently exellent.

Knowledge is Power

Light Pollution is a hazard to your health

For most Americans, the night sky is getting ever brighter. This causes significant harm to the health of human beings, animals and the ecosystem as a whole. 

Stories of the night sky On the radio

Star Lore Historian Mary Stewart Adams, former Program Director and founder of Michigan’s first International Dark Sky Park, who has been telling stories of the night sky on IPR since 2013.

smart lighting is for the birds

Beaver Island is an import location for many migratory bird species. Most birds migrate at night and smart lighting choices can protect them.

Be an advocate

It’s easy to stay informed, get involved, and make a difference! Check out the links below to see how you can be a part of protecting Dark Skies.

Become a citizen Scientist

Be part of a global community that is helping scientists measure and study light pollution.


Assess Your lighting

Inspect your property for inefficient, poorly installed, and unnecessary outdoor lighting.


Advocate for Smart Lighting

Local lighting ordinances ensure that your municipality is addressing artificial light at night.

Become a DSI Member

Stay informed!

As new threats and opportunities arise to our dark skies, you can make a difference.


Here’s a handy listing of events planned by the Beaver Island Dark Sky Project team along with information on celestial events that are likely to be of interest to dark sky fans. Additional information about Dark Sky events is featured in two recurring programs on WVBI. Listen every day for Stardate from the McDonald Observatory at 7:30 and 11:30 weekday mornings, at 3:30 in the afternoons and 10:30 and 3:30 a.m. at night. On the weekends, hear it at 11:30 in the morning, 2:30 in the afternoon and 2:30 during the overnight. The second show is the locally produced Story Teller’s Night Sky. Hear it Wednesdays after the news at 6 and 8 a.m., 5 and 7 p.m. and at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.  If you miss the Story Teller’s Night Sky on the air, you can listen to the podcasts. Visit wvbi.net and click on the Podcast menu.


These organizations and individuals have graciously offered support for the Beaver Island International Dark Sky Sanctuary.

  • Little Traverse Conservancy
  • Beaver Island Association
  • Charleviox County Board of Commisioners
  • BI Chamber of Commerce
  • Peaine Township
  • Central Michigan University
  • St. James Township
  • Michigan DNR
  • Northern Lake Michigan Island Colaborative
  • Beaver Island Retreat, LLC
  • WBVI 

You'll marvel at more than the Stars

Plan your trip at beaverisland.org
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