Looking for an astronomy fix during the summer months? When the U of M is out, we don’t have the Friday night Public Viewings at the Institute for Astrophysics; instead there is the Universe in the Park program. These events are held in various parks on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer — some close, some not so close. The program starts with a 20-30 minute slide show presentation at 8:30 p.m. and , weather permitting, an opportunity to to get a closer look the solar system through 8-inch reflecting telescopes until 10 or 11 p.m. Attendees can learn how to use a star map and go home with a free one.
Universe in the Park Deails
Pre-registration is not required to attend these short outdoor presentations or the telescope viewing.
Cost to Participate
This program does not require a registration fee, but a vehicle permit are required at the State Parks ($35 annual/$7 daily). Don’t forget to dress appropriately for Minnesota summer evenings (You know the drill — layers and insect repellent.) Since it IS a park, and you are paying for a day’s worth of parking, you might as well arrive early with a picnic and have some playtime.
What to Pack & Wear
Dress in comfortable clothing for a Minnesota summer evening. You may want to wear or bring long pants and sleeves in case it cools down after dark and bring the outdoor essentials, like bug spray for the mosquitos, good walking shoes and and a water bottle.
Participating 2023 Universe In the Park locations
Locations Near the Twin Cities
These 8 programs are offered at locations close enough to the Twin Cities to make a spontaneous night out an option – see how the weather goes and make up your mind at the last minute if you want.
- July 7: Dodge Nature Center Main Property, Farm Entrance 3, 1701 Charlton Street, West St. Paul, MN 55118
- July 8: Lowry Nature Center, Lake Auburn Campground, 7290 Victoria Dr, Victoria, MN 55386
- July 15: Eastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369
- August 4: Dodge Nature Center, Shepard Farm, Cottage Grove, 8946 70th Street S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
- August 5: Afton State Park, 6959 Peller Avenue South, Hastings, MN 55033
- August 11: William O’Brien State Park, 16821 O’Brien Trail North, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047
- August 12: Lowry Nature Center, 7025 Nature Center Dr, Victoria, MN 55386
- August 25: Eastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369
For another nearby option to learn from expert astronomers, the Bell Museum offers a monthly star party. Learn more here.
The following 10 programs are offered at State Parks around Minnesota. One advantage to getting out of the metro area is that there is less light pollution offering the darkest night skies, and you can see more with the naked eye.
- June 30: Tettegouche State Park, 5702 Highway 61, Silver Bay, MN 55614
- July 1: Gooseberry Falls State Park, 3206 Highway 61 East, Two Harbors, MN 55616
- July 14: Lake Maria State Park, 11411 Clementa Avenue Northwest, Monticello, MN 55362
- July 21: Father Hennepin State Park, 41294 Father Hennepin Park Road, Isle, MN 56342
- July 22: Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, 15066 Kathio State Park Road, Onamia, MN 56359
- July 28: Tettegouche State Park, 5702 Highway 61, Silver Bay, MN 55614
- July 29: Gooseberry Falls State Park, 3206 Highway 61 East, Two Harbors, MN 55616
- August 18: Wild River State Park, 39797 Park Trail, Center City, MN 55012
- August 19: Nerstand Big Woods State Park, 9700 170th St E, Nerstrand, MN 55053
- August 26: Wild River State Park, 39797 Park Trail, Center City, MN 55012
The University of Wisconsin Madison offers a similar program, and some of the sites are close to the Twin Cities. Find those dates here.
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