The Dark Sky Festival Dec. 14-15 will be the first such celebration of its kind in the Arrowhead Region, and will feature presentations from Minnesota’s Dark Sky experts. 

University of Minnesota - Duluth Faculty Administrator Joel Halvorson, faculty researcher Jim Rock and their students will bring back the traveling planetarium that visited Cook County in August. They will make stops at area schools, before putting on public presentations over the weekend. On Friday, Dec. 14, starting at 5 p.m., visitors can head to Voyageur Brewing Company, where the GeoDome will be set up until 9 p.m. The event is intended to be annual.

Halvorson will address such topics as Traveling the Cosmos, uncovering the Dark Secrets of Dark Matter, and the 50th anniversary of the iconic Earthrise photo – our planet’s first selfie. There will be telescopes set up outside to view the night sky during the famous winter Geminids Meteor Shower, which will be at peak during the festival. 

On Saturday, there will be a night packed full of presentations at North House Folk School in Grand Marais. From 5-6:30 p.m., 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. 

At 6:30 p.m., Jim Rock will talk about Native Skies: the stars and indigenous people. After the presentations, there will be a community bonfire outside of North House for more stargazing and s’mores, weather permitting. 

Everyone is then invited to Voyageur Brewing for more time with Halvorson and his students in the GeoDome, which will be available to the public until the brewery closes at 10 p.m.