View MAS Observing Sites in a larger map
Two hours north of the Twin Cities.
28952 438th Lane, Palisade, MN 56469
Located deep within Aitkin County, Long Lake Conservation Center (LLCC) boasts some of the darkest skies in the state of Minnesota.
A legal agreement between LLCC and the Minnesota Astronomical Society allows MAS members (and their immediate family members) to use LLCC facilities and grounds for astronomical observing on scheduled weekends.
Member use of LLCC facilities is controlled by rules jointly developed by LLCC and the MAS. The remainder of this page summarizes these rules and procedures. The full set of rules, in Adobe PDF format, can be accessed are here LLCC_MAS Star Party Policy 01_09_2007
Any MAS member intending to observe at LLCC must review the full ”Rules of Use” document prior to their visit.
Unlike other MAS star party sites, the nature of the relationship between the MAS and the LLCC requirements affects access by both members and the general public. Specifically:
Other than the Northern Nights Star Fest, Events held at LLCC are not open to the public. Only MAS members and their immediate family members are authorized to attend scheduled events.
When the LLCC star party for an evening is called ”off”, the site is not available for member observing.
The site is only available when the star party is called ”on”. The site is not available for mid-week observing by members.
Check the MAS information line — (952) 467-2426 — after 3:00 pm the day of a scheduled party to confirm its status.
Unlike typical MAS star parties, LLCC star parties may be called ”on” for both Friday and Saturday evenings, weather permitting. The Scheduled Events at LLCC can be found following the links in the left hand column or by choosing the links to the Events Calendar or theLLCC Event List. The schedule for LLCC star parties is also published in Gemini, the Society’s newsletter .
Sign-in/out Procedures: All MAS members attending an LLCC star party must sign-in upon entering the site. The sign-in form will be on a clipboard located in the lobby of Marcum House, or occasionally at the North Star Lodge. (Check the message board upon arrival to determine location.)
Before leaving LLCC at the end of a visit, members must log-out using the same form.
Message board: Changes affecting the location of the sign-in/out clipboard, parking availability and sleeping accommodations are posted either at the entrance to LLCC or at the Marcum House parking area.
Members should check this message board upon arrival to ensure compliance with the regulations in-force for that weekend.
From the eastern Twin Cities
Go north on I-35 to Finlayson/Exit 195. Turn west/left and go one mile to County Rd. 61 and MN 18. At stop sign turn right/north and go two miles. Follow MN 18 west/left and continue 19 miles to MN 65. Turn north/right on MN 65 and proceed 30 miles to McGregor. Intersect with MN 210 and follow 210 west/left (through McGregor) for seven miles. A large green highway sign marks the turn off MN 210 to Long Lake Conservation Center. Turn north/right on County Rd. 5. After three miles, turn east/right on gravel County Rd. 88. It is approximately one mile to the LLCC gate.
From the western Twin Cities
Take I-94 west to Rogers/MN 101. Go north/right on MN 101 through Elk River, where MN 101 becomes US 169. Continue north on US 169 approximately 90 miles to Aitkin. At stoplight in Aitkin, turn east/right onto US 169/MN 210 and go out of town eight miles. Then turn east/right, following MN 210 toward Duluth. Proceed seven miles. A large green highway sign marks the turn off of 210 to Long Lake Conservation Center. Turn north/left on County Rd. 5. After three miles, turn east/right on gravel County Rd. 88. It is approximately one mile to the LLCC gate.
An interactive map is also available on the MAS Observing Facilities web page found HERE.
Parking: All member vehicles must display an MAS-supplied parking permit placard on the dashboard while on-site at LLCC.
Parking permits are available from the MAS LLCC Site Coordinator.
Parking, with care, is available on the observing field continuously during an event. If ground conditions on the observing field are unusually soggy parking will be limited to the overflow parking lot west of the observing field.
Parking in front of Markum House housing is only allowed when there are no non-MAS activities are occurring at LLCC. In the event non-MAS events are taking place MAS members may only park in front of Markum House when loading or unloading and parking will only be allowed on the observing field or in the overflow parking lot.
(Parking restrictions will be posted on the MAS message board, either at the entrance to LLCC or near the Marcum House parking area.)
Observing Field: The LLCC orienteering field is the observing field. MAS members may park on the observing field, but please take care not to damage the property. Driving on the orienteering field may be restricted when conditions are wet.
Electrical: Several electrical outlets are available at the site on a wooden post near the north end of the observing field. Members need to provide their own extension cord (at least 100′ recommended).
Lighting: LLCC will extinguish unnecessary outdoor lights during MAS star parties.
Concrete Pads: None.
Restrooms: Restroom facilities are available in the dining hall near the observing field and in the bunk rooms provided in Markum House.
Sleeping / Warming: A maximum of three rooms, typically in the ‘Marcus House’ building are available during star parties for MAS member and immediate family use as overnight accommodations on a first-come, first-served basis. Each room contains four bunk beds (total of 8 beds per room) and includes a toilet and shower. Members must supply their own towels, toiletries, sleeping bags and pillows.
Lodgers are required to leave the facilities at least as clean, or cleaner than found. Camping is not allowed on the LLCC grounds (includes tents, RV’s and trailers).
(Changes in accommodation availability are posted on the MAS message board, either at the entrance to LLCC or near the Marcum House parking area.)
Other: No alcohol consumption is allowed at LLCC.
Smoking is only allowed outdoors, at least 25 feet away from any building and must not be overtly visible to children visiting the site.
The MAS agreement with LLCC includes volunteer outreach activities, teaching astronomy to children visiting LLCC. If you would like to volunteer your assistance in outreach activities, please contact the MAS Outreach Coordinator or the the MAS LLCC Site Coordinator.
MAS members are guests of the Long Lake Conservation Center. Courtney Dowell, LLCC’s Instruction Coordinator, lives on-site and is available to assist MAS members if needed. Local phone number is (218) 768-4653, toll free number is 1-800-459-5522. (The phone in the dining hall can also be used — dial #230 or #232.) You can also email Courtney at email@example.com
NOTE: Cell phone coverage in the area is unreliable, varying widely depending on service provider. If members wish to provide an emergency contact number for family or friends, provide them the Executive Director’s contact information.
Additional information is also available from the MAS LLCC Site Coordinator.