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Dark Sky Festival

December 13 - December 14

Northern lights light up the sky in Grand Marais

Dark Sky Festival

Cook County is home to one of the darkest skies in the nation. Every year, explorers, adventurers, artists and photographers from around the world travel to Cook County to experience the northern lights. Help us to celebrate this darkest season of the month at the first annual Dark Sky Festival!


Friday, December 14th:

5 pm – 9 pm | UMD Marshall W. Alworth  Traveling GeoDome at Voyageur Brewing Company

Joel Halvorson and UMD students will bring back the traveling planetarium that visited Cook County previously in August for a night of space exploration. Outside enjoy the Geminid Meteor Shower and telescope viewing with guidance from astronomical experts. Inside visit the GeoDome to explore such topics as Traveling the Cosmos uncovering the Dark Secret of Dark Matter. Or celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Earthrise photo–our planet’s first selfie!

5 pm  | Gun Flint Tavern & Brewpub Premiere of limited edition Dark Sky Stout made in house by head brewer Paul Gecas

Saturday, December 15th:

5 – 6:30 pm | Dueling Photographers: Bryan Hansel and Travis Novitsky | North House Folk School

Cook County photographers Travis Novitsky and Bryan Hansel will have a friendly duel of nightscape images. Novitsky and Hansel are the two most experienced night sky photographers in the Midwest. They’ll also talk about why they love night sky photography, and what drives them to travel the lonely, dark, roads of Cook County in the middle of the night, while sharing  images from their night sky adventures. This will be one of the most unforgettable presentations of the year, and you don’t want to miss it.

6:30 pm | Native Skies: Jim Rock and Joel Halvorson, the Stars and Indigenous People | North House Folk School

Halvorson and Rock have a unique and expansive presentation that allows viewers to learn about the stars in ways they’ve never imagined.

After the presentations at North House Folk School, there will be a community bonfire with s’mores and more stargazing–weather permitting.

8- 10 pm | More time in the GeoDome at Voyageur Brewing Company

9 pm | Stars and Space Movie Marathon | Wunderbar

Bring your PJ’s and hunker down at Wunderbar for viewing some classic star and space favorites.

Listen to an interview by John Barentine, program director of the International Dark Sky Association, talking with Dick Feb. 27, 2015, on WTIP Community Radio about light pollution and the benefits of a dark sky:

Get a sneak peek of Bryan Hansel in action as he chats with WDSE on The Playlist:


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