Boreal Stargazing Week


A group of kids huddle near a telescope in the snowy woods under the night sky

A Week of Discovery, Stargazing, and Nighttime Wonder

Embrace the winter darkness and discover the magic of Minnesota’s starbright skies! Join us for a week of free activities for students, families, and friends that will immerse you in learning and stargazing. 

The second annual Boreal Stargazing week will take place from February 11 -18, 2023 with free dark sky experiences for all ages and backgrounds. These free events are friendly for all ages and feature captivating night sky tours, snowshoe hikes, live conversations with astronomers, and more!

Boreal Stargazing in-person and virtual events are brought to you by Voyageurs Conservancy, Friends of the Boundary Waters, Starry Skies North and the National Park Service, Superior National Forest, Expeditions in Education, The Bell Museum and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Register for FREE Boreal Stargazing Week programs and speakers live streamed directly to your classroom!

Boreal Stargazing week will have something for everyone!

School Programs

Virtual Night Sky Experiences for K-12 Students

Bring your students out of their desk and into the largest International Dark Sky Region in the world – right here in Minnesota!

By participating in Boreal Stargazing Week, your classroom will receive FREE live virtual programs on the wonders of dark skies with special speakers from NASA, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Expeditions in Education, Voyageurs Conservancy, and Friends of the Boundary Waters. Students will learn about protected Dark Sky Regions, the natural and cultural importance of the night sky, and how they can engineer ways to protect them!

Who can participate? Boreal Stargazing Week programs are available and free for K-12 classrooms across the country. See specific programs for grade-level targets.

Boreal Stargazing Week programs will be live-streamed directly to your classroom! Teachers will also receive the recorded sessions if they cannot attend the live programs.

Last year’s Boreal Stargazing Week attracted 9,000+ students from around the country, including classrooms in Maryland, Minnesota, California, Florida, Tennessee, and New Mexico! Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to immerse your classroom in northern Minnesota’s starbright skies and get your students interested in the fascinating world of astronomy.

Virtual Kickoff to Boreal Stargazing Week

Pre-recorded video intro, released Week of February 5th 

Virtual: Art of the Night Sky with Sam Zimmerman

Sunday, February 11th, 2024 
2 – 3:00pm CT

Join Sam for a presentation featuring art of the evening sky, sharing the stories that inspired the pieces featuring Ojibwe constellations. Learn more about the birds and animals in his work, and how they inspire his art. 

Sam Zimmerman, a Grand Portage direct descendant, is a painter, author, and educator based in Duluth, Minnesota. Zimmerman draws on his Ojibwe heritage to create vibrant images filled with symbolism. He passionately believes in artistic expression as a gateway for education and cultural understanding. His work continues the Anishinaabe tradition of storytelling, with themes of environmental stewardship and conservation. His work has been showcased in gallery and public installations throughout the nation and abroad. Register here.

Ages: This presentation is best for upper elementary and older, and perfect for families and young adults!

Winter Night Skies & The Aurora Borealis with Voyageurs Conservancy (Virtual Program) 

Monday, February 12th
1pm CST/2pm EST
Grades 4 – 12 

Dark Sky Magic with Expeditions in Education (Virtual Program) 

Tuesday, February 13th
12pm CST/1pm EST
Grades K – 6 

The Long Tour and The Big Plunge: The Lucy and DAVINCI missions at NASA Goddard (Virtual Program) 

Thursday, February 15th
1pm CST/2pm EST
Grades 4 – 12

Community Programs graphic featuring a man's silhouette looking up at the Milky Way in the Boundary Waters

Community Programs

Nighttime Exploration Across Minnesota

BWCAW: Bass Lake Trail Hike

Monday February 12th and Friday, February 16th
5:00 PM
Bass Lake Trail trailhead

NOTE: Due to deteriorating ice conditions, we have change the location from Hegman Lake to Bass Lake Trail, trailhead.

Join friends, new and old, on an evening snowshoe into the world’s largest Dark Sky Sanctuary- the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness! Enjoy a roughly 5-mile (round trip) snowshoe on the Bass Lake Trail while experiencing the grandeur of the universe above you. Hosted by the Superior National Forest and the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, these events require advance registration.

Voyageurs: Nighttime Snowshoe Hike & Telescopes

Saturday, February 10
Black Bay Beaver Pond

Join a park ranger and Voyageurs Conservancy for a guided snowshoe hike and telescope observation session at Black Bay Beaver Pond (to access the Black Bay Beaver Pond, drive ~.25 mile on the ice road from Rainy Lake Visitor Center). Snowshoe rentals are free and available upon arrival at Black Bay Beaver Pond trailhead. Bring warm layers and a headlamp! 

No reservation necessary

Twin Cities: Night Sky Watching Party – Wood Lake Nature Center

Friday, February 16th , 6-8pm

Look for constellations, hear stories, and enjoy the night. Learn how our night sky has been lost to light pollution and simple things to do to bring back the night.

Twin Cities: Space Fest at the Bell Museum

Fri-Sat, February 16-17, 10-4pm

Catch up with Voyageurs Conservancy, Friends of the Boundary Waters and Starry Skies North during Space Fest at the Bell Museum and learn about what makes Minnesota’s dark skies special.

Black Bay Ski Trail, International Falls, MN

Saturday, February 17, 10:30-4:00
Black Bay Ski/Snowshoe Trailhead

  • Classic Ski Trails and a novice Skate Ski loop
  • Food 12:00-2:00 @ Black Bay Ski/Snowshoe Trailhead
  • Learn to Ski Classes (Classic Skiing) via Miranda Challeen 12:00 & 2:00

Voyageurs: Ski Event and Telescope Program

Saturday, February 17, 6:00 – 7:30 PM

Tilson Bay Bogwalk

Join the Polar Polers, Voyageurs National Park, and Voyageurs Conservancy for cross country skiing and a telescope observation session at Tilson Bay. Meet at the Tilson Bay Bogwalk parking lot. Bring warm layers and a headlamp! 

Note: Please bring your own skis OR rent skies before the program begins (they are not available at Tilson Bay Bogwalk). Limited skis are available for rent at the RLVC

No reservation necessary

Why are we celebrating?

For generations, humans have looked to the stars for inspiration and connection. Located along the Minnesota-Canadian border is a rare sanctuary for starry skies. Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota make up one of the largest Dark Sky Regions in the world.

The Boreal Stargazing Week celebrates the importance of dark skies through virtual school programs and community events. Friends of the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs Conservancy, Starry Skies North, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bell Museum, are joining together to share boreal dark skies with folks of all ages and backgrounds. Enjoy snowshoe programs, telescope sessions, and live conversations with amateur astronomers. Join us for a free program and discover the wilderness above your head.