Doctor T-K Lawless Park is one of 79 dark sky parks in the world and only the second in the State of Michigan. It took the Cass County Parks Department two-and-a-half years to complete the process.
Local amateur astronomer Robert Parrish was an essential part of that. The dark sky application process began about two years ago. But the night sky has been on Parrish’s mind since he was a young boy living in Virginia.
“My father spent a lot of years in the navy, and he would relate to me what the stars would look like from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And when I was 8 years old I got a telescope for Christmas, and when you combine that with the space race of the 1980’s, I was hooked.”
When his father passed away two years ago, Parrish knew he had to get Lawless Park certified as a Dark Skies Park in his honor. The application required the park to prove the darkness of the night sky and included a light management study of the entire park.
“The application process was over 60 pages, which I tell everyone, was longer than my master’s thesis.”
Parrish and the Parks Department succeeded in their mission but more work still lies ahead. Cass County Parks and Recreation Director Scott Wyman says they have plans for a nature center and an observatory in the park. I’m Raine Kuch.