How you can celebrate International Dark Sky Week in and around the Apostle Islands

International Dark Sky Week title graphic - silhouettes of people looking at the stars

April 1, 2024

International Dark Sky Week draws worldwide attention to light pollution, promotes simple solutions and celebrates the irreplaceable beauty of a natural night.

High school student Jennifer Barlow started International Dark Sky Week (IDSW) in 2003. In explaining why she founded the event, Barlow said, “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. I want to help preserve its wonder.”

Here are some ways you can discover the night

Get outside at night with friends and family. Get away from city lights to see more stars. Some easy locations in and near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore include:

Little Sand Bay sunset - Jon Okerstrom photo

Little Sand Bay sunset

Northern Lights Friendly Valley Beach - Jon Okerstrom photo

Northern Lights from Friendly Valley Beach

Little Sand Bay. The northwest view makes it a great place to watch the sunset and northern lights if we’re lucky enough to see them appear.

If you want to see the Milky Way in the southern sky, or the Northern Lights over the Bayfield Peninsula, you can do that at Friendly Valley Beach, Bayview Beach or the Onion River Access between Bayfield and Washburn.

Get more sky watching tips on our website.

Apostle Islands Starry Skies Initiative logo featuring silhouette of Honeymoon Rock and a starlit dark sky

Help spread the word about light pollution and the importance of dark skies. Learn about our Starry Skies Initiative as a start.

This week is also a great reason to talk with friends, family, neighbors or government representatives about why protecting our night environment is so crucial.

For some tips about making those conversations productive, visit the website.

Learn about the effect of artificial light at night on human health, the environment, energy waste and our heritage of night skies. For example, did you know plants and animals depend on natural light cycles to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep, and protection from predators?   Follow the links to learn more on the Dark Sky International website.

Evaluate the outdoor lighting around your own home. Ask yourself:

1 – Does the light serve a clear and necessary purpose? If you find that lights on your property are not necessary or useful, remove or disable them so that they are not accidentally turned on.

2 – Does the light fall only where it is needed? Direct the light down, not up into the sky, and target your fixtures so that light does not spill beyond where it is needed.

3 – Is the amount of light appropriate for the intended task? Use the lowest lighting level needed to perform the intended task.

4 – Is the light connected to active controls? Outdoor lights that are necessary should be connected to a timer or motion sensor. Motion sensors should be set to times of five minutes or less. Dusk-to-dawn sensors are strongly discouraged, as they release light when it is not needed.

5 – Is the light source warm in color? Low Kelvin ratings (3000 K or less) are considered “warm” in appearance and generally emit less harmful blue light than higher-Kelvin ratings

Eclipse watchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory - NASA/Josh Krohn

Eclipse watchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory – NASA/Josh Krohn photo

Plan to safely watch the solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024. The moon will block a maximum of 77% of the sun in Bayfield as we are not in the path of totality. The partial eclipse will start at 12:55 p.m. The eclipse maximum will happen at 2:07 p.m. The eclipse will end at 3:17 p.m.

Always use proper eye protection when viewing the partial eclipse. You’ll find safety tips on NASA’s website or watch the video below.

Regardless of local sky conditions, you can watch the eclipse live below or by following this link

National Park Service resources:

See the eclipse safely
Where to see the eclipse
How to see the eclipse
See how eclipses work
Be an Eclipse Explorer Junior Ranger

Enjoy International Dark Sky Week. We hope it inspires you to join our Starry Skies Initiative, which we’re launching in 2024. Among the goals – achieving Dark Sky Park Designation for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

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