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green northern lights in the night sky above the forest north shore

Northern Lights & Stargazing

Oh heavens! The night skies are filled with celestial phenomena –  stars, constellations, the Moon, the Milky Way, and the northern lights (aka aurora borealis). Want to see it all? The North Shore has very little light pollution, especially away from the shoreline communities, making for ideal night sky viewing.

The vast night skies are another free North Shore attraction, open every night, easy to access.

when to see the northern lights

Check below for the current northern lights forecast. Since these are storms, the forecast can change. Check back weekly as we update often.

North Shore Northern Lights

Seeing the northern lights is breathtaking, inspiring, awesome. Shafts of luminescent green light dance across the sky. Fans of pink glow for hours. Vibrant, pulsating white wands illuminate the night heavens. This is the aurora borealis.

And to be perfectly frank, what looks like the white glow of light pollution is also the northern lights. Less showy, but frequent because northern lights are a geomagnetic storm that occurs close to the earth’s poles. When the storm is big and the winds are right the storm can be seen here.

The bigger the storm, the bigger show. Aurora forecasts are just that, predictions. If there is a likely chance we post a notice (see northern lights forecast below). As with other storms, sometimes they pass quickly and sometimes they linger all night.

Northern Lights Viewing Tips

Look to the north sky, this generally means Lake Superior is over your right shoulder.

Get away from lights, a mere half mile inland does the trick.

The higher in elevation you are, the better your chances of seeing the lights, and getting an unobstructed view.

If you see a smear of white over the forest, you may be seeing the aurora. Watch and see if it moves.

I wish I could give you photography tips, but that eludes me. Which is lucky because then I watch and appreciate.

night sky over the mouth of the temperance river north shore mn
Stargazing and viewing tips

A more consistent evening display is the Milky Way. This massive spiraling star formation has a dense nucleus and thin surround disc. When we see the hazy band of light bending across the night sky, we are looking at the Milky Way.

Moonless nights are best for night sky viewing – we’ve listed those times below.

The Milky Way is brightest in the summer months and can be seen in the east/southeast sky. Binoculars will let you zoom in on the shimmering stars.

Northern Lights forecast

Best Times for Stargazing

big dipper night sky winter

Best Stargazing March

March 10, 2024 12:00 am - March 10, 2024 5:00 am

New moon nights – night when the moon is absent from the sky – make for great stargazing. Here’s a great way to start – look due north after the sun has set and find the Big Dipper constellation [see photo] with its telltale 3-star handle and 4-star dipper. In the winter, the dipper is at ‘3-o’clock’ with the handle hanging down.

Big dipper in the northern sky in spring

Best Stargazing April

April 8, 2024 8:00 pm - April 8, 2024 11:45 pm

New moon nights – night when the moon is absent from the sky – make for great stargazing. Here’s a great way to start – look due north after the sun has set and find the Big Dipper constellation [see photo] with its telltale 3-star handle and 4-star dipper. In the spring, the dipper is at ’12-o’clock’ with the dipper facing down/handle to the right.

meteor showers

Lyrids Meteor Shower

April 22, 2024 10:00 pm - April 23, 2024 5:00 am

The Lyrids peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. Unfortunately the glare of the full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. But if you are patient, you may still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Big dipper in the northern sky in spring

Best Stargazing May

May 7, 2024 8:00 pm - May 7, 2024 11:45 pm

New moon nights – night when the moon is absent from the sky – make for great stargazing. Here’s a great way to start – look due north after the sun has set and find the Big Dipper constellation [see photo] with its telltale 3-star handle and 4-star dipper. In the spring, the dipper is at ’12-o’clock’ with the dipper facing down/handle to the right.

skaters on ice rink in front of gunflint lodge
sparkling wintry lake superior and ice sheets stacked on north shore

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