Boreal Stargazing Week


Dark Sky in the Boundary Waters - with a headlamp
Photo by Will Schultz

A Week of Discovery, Stargazing, and Nighttime Wonder
February 19 – February 24, 2023

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

The week of free in-person and virtual events is brought to you by Friends of the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs Conservancy, Starry Skies North and the National Park Service.

Boreal Stargazing week will have something for everyone!

Calling all Teachers!
Register for FREE Night Sky Experiences for K-8 Students

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

By signing up for the Boreal Stargazing Week, your classroom will receive live FREE virtual programs from the National Park Service, Voyageurs Conservancy, Friends of the Boundary Waters, and Expeditions in Education on the wonders of dark skies. Students will learn about these protected lands, the importance of dark skies, and how we can protect them.

Boreal Stargazing Week programs will be live-streamed directly to your classroom from Tuesday, February 21 – Friday, February 24, 2023! Teachers will also receive the recorded sessions if they cannot attend the live programs.

Dark Sky STEM Challenge at Voyageurs National Park
Tuesday, February 21st 
12pm CT, Virtual Program 

Join Expeditions in Education and the National Park Service LIVE on the ice in Voyageurs National Park! Students will learn about the spectacular resources at Minnesota’s national park and engineer their own solutionas to preserve the night sky.
Teachers – please have your students watch the VOYA Crossing America Video and begin working on their STEM / ENGINEERING Challenge before this LIVE event.

Boreal Wonders in the Boundary Waters
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
1:00 PM CT, Virtual Program

Join us as Ojibwe photographer Travis Novitsky and Ojibwe artist, author and storyteller Carl Gawboy share their experiences and stories on the wonders of the night sky.

Protect the Night: Light Pollution with Voyageurs Conservancy and “Astro” Bob
Friday, February 24, 2023
1:00 PM CT, Virtual Program

Community Programs: Nighttime Exploration Across Minnesota

Dark Sky Snowshoe Hike in Voyageurs National Park
Sunday, February 19, 2023
6:00 PM
Oberholtzer Trail, International Falls, MN

Join us for an evening snowshoe under the illuminating stars of Voyageurs National Park. Enjoy a tranquil guided hike on the Oberholtzer Trail (1.6 miles roundtrip) and stargaze in Minnesota’s International Dark Sky Park! Learn about the history of snowshoes, animal tracks ID, and dark sky preservation – all while enjoying the breathtaking cosmos above us

Voyageurs Conservancy  will welcome you with a bonfire at the Oberholtzer Trailhead. Snowshoes will be available to rent (free-of-charge) and no prior snowshoe experience is needed. This event is recommended for all ages and is free to attend!

Space is limited. Please register and reserve snowshoes below.

Dark Sky Snowshoe Hike in the Boundary Waters
Friday, February 24, 2023
6:00 and 6:30 start time
Hegman Lake, BWCA Entry Point 77, north of Ely, MN

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 to visit the Hegman Lake pictographs while experiencing the grandeur of the universe above you. 

The Friends of the Boundary Waters will provide warm drinks in the parking lot as well as snowshoes for a limited number of folks who need to borrow them.  Registration is required to reserve snowshoes. Stargazing can be done near the parking lot for people who want to enjoy the night sky but are unable to join the snowshoe.  Open to folks of all ages, make sure to dress for the weather!

Registration is required to reserve snowshoes.

Winter Stargazing on Ice, in Voyageurs National Park 
Friday, February 24, 2023
5:00 – 8:00 PM
Black Bay Ski Trail Parking Area, International Falls, MN

Voyageurs National Park has teamed up with the PolarPolars Ski Club, Voyageurs Conservancy, and Astro Bob to bring you the first Annual Winter Stargazing Event on Ice. 

From 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm the PolarPolars will offer a ski on Rainy Lake. Meet at the Black Bay Ski Trail and join the group to travel to the designated groomed ski area where you can view the setting sun on skis with friends. 

From 7:00 to 8:00 pm “Astro Bob” King will share stories of the stars and help you in identifying the night sky with the naked eye and via telescopes. All events start at the Black Bay Ski Trail Parking Area. Hot cocoa and a warm fire will be going throughout the event. Bring your skis or check some out prior to departure (free for the event) from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. 

Registration for free ski equipment is required at www, This event was made possible in part by Voyageurs Conservancy, PolarPolars Ski Club and the National Park Service.

Social & Screening – Twin Cities

Northern Nights, Starry Skies
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, St. Paul

7:00 & 9:00 Showings
Preview the new documentary
Northern Nights, Starry Skies:
Our star-bright northern skies are beckoning. The region has an extraordinary number of places where night skies are dark enough to be experienced in their full splendor. These designated Dark Sky Places, recently sanctioned by the International Dark-Skies Association, are Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park.

Co-produced by Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education and PBS North, this documentary explores the movement to reduce light pollution and celebrate Dark Sky Places, Indigenous Star Knowledge, and stewardship of the night sky.

8:00 – 9:00 PM
Social Hour

It’s Boreal Stargazing Week! Enjoy a pint, learn how to connect with the stars, and plan your next adventure to the Boundary Waters or Voyageurs.

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, and the National Park Service 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.