Voyageurs Conservancy hosting annual Star Party

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

There’s a special late-night party coming, and you are invited.

The U.S. National Park Service and Voyageurs Conservancy are coming together to celebrate natural wonder and the cultural heritage of Voyageurs National Park’s night skies with their third annual Summer Star Party. Planned to run from Thursday, August 10, to Saturday, August 12, 2023, the three-day event will be a celebration of the continued protection and enjoyment of the park’s night skies, especially following their designation as an International Dark Sky Park in 2020. Thanks to that designation, the park boasts some of the darkest skies in the world, minimally polluted by nearby light sources, and so offers visitors a pristine night sky in which to star gaze and appreciate its natural beauty.

The three day celebration will take place in varied locations across Koochiching County in Minnesota, including International Falls, Ranier, and Lake Kabetogama, among others.

Kicking off the events is a special Stars and Space Storytime from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the International Falls Library. The storytime will feature Elaine Johnson along with author Polly Carlson-Voiles and illustrator Consie Powell, who will help read from their new book Star Party, which is a two-time winner of the Northeastern Minnesota Book award. The storytime will also have Junior Ranger Night Explorer books to pick up, and a Bell Museum scavenger hunt to undertake.

Local amateur astronomer “Astro” Bob King will be on hand to guide participants through the nights sky during the Voyageur National park’s Star Party, taking place August 10, 11 and 12. -Voyageur National Park photo

Later on Thursday, the public is invited to a seminar on Light Pollution Challenges and Solutions, and the Economic Opportunities of Astro-Tourism from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Ranier Community Hall. The seminar will feature Dark Sky Delegate and Starry Skies North chapter president Todd Burlet, who will speak on sources of light pollution, its impact on the health and wellness not only of humans, but on those of area plants, animals and waters, and the things that individuals can do to reduce light pollution while still enjoying outdoor lighting.

Friday’s events will take place at Voyageurs Park’s Rainy Lake Visitor Center, beginning at11:00 a.m. with Dark Sky educator Jesse Gates and “Astro” Bob King, a showing of the educational film Northern Nights, Starry Skies, and learning how to use Solar Scopes to safely view the sun. Later that evening, beginning at 7:00 p.m., a host of more activities are planned at the Visitor Centre, which will include astronomy arts and crafts, educational dark sky themed programming ,s’mores, storytelling, discussions about light pollution, and a sunset paddle on the lake. Saturday night will see a repeat of many of Friday night;s activities, and both nights will be capped off by a Night Sky Tour with Astro Bob, the Voyageurs Conservancy and Voyageurs Park Rangers, where participants can enjoy constellation tours over the park, learn about astrophotography and explore the night sky through telescopes from 9:45 p.m. until midnight.

All are welcome to attend this event at Voyageurs National Park. There are no reservations required to attend the Star Party. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own supplies to this event. Seating is not provided so bring a camp chair or blanket. Wear layers, bring water, pack bug spray, and keep in mind parking is limited. Eat dinner before you arrive or pack a picnic (and plan to pack your trash out with you). Be prepared to wait in line to park or walk a short distance from overflow parking. 

For more about the Summer Star Party from Voyageurs Conservancy and the National Park Service, as well as the complete line up of events and activities, visit the Voyageurs Park website at and the National Park Service website at