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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

purple and green northern lights above pines on the north shore mn

Northern Lights Friday May 31

May 31, 2024 1:00 pm - May 31, 2024 10:30 pm

Huge chance of Northern Lights

Friday May 31 from dusk to about 10 pm for all but the southern most part of Minnesota. Get to the darkest spot as early as you can as the storm will be going strong from about 1pm on. Learn more about northern lights and stargazing
purple and green northern lights above pines on the north shore mn

Northern Lights June 10

June 10, 2024 9:00 pm - June 10, 2024 11:00 pm

Find the best stargazing dates on the North Shore.
There is a good chance to see the Aurora Borealis aka 'northern lights' tonight. Watch from dusk until 10:30pm in the skies to the north. The forecast is for all of Minnesota except the southernmost 50 miles.  

Best Times for Stargazing

big dipper night sky summer

Best Stargazing June

June 6, 2024 9:00 pm - June 6, 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 summer, the dipper is at ‘9-o’clock’ and hangs dipper down.

big dipper night sky summer

Best Stargazing July

July 5, 2024 9:00 pm - July 5, 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 summer, the dipper is at ‘9-o’clock’ and hangs dipper down.

big dipper night sky summer

Best Stargazing August

August 4, 2024 9:00 pm - August 4, 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 summer, the dipper is at ‘9-o’clock’ and hangs dipper down.

big dipper night sky autumn

Best Stargazing September

September 3, 2024 8:00 pm - September 3, 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 autumn, the dipper is at ‘6-o’clock’ with the dipper facing up/handle to the left.

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sparkling wintry lake superior and ice sheets stacked on north shore

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