Northern Nights Star Fest

In cooperation with Long Lake Conservation Center, the Northern Nights Star Fest takes place under the dark skies of rural Aitkin County each year in late August or early September.
Long Lake Conservation Center

A Memorable Dark Skies Experience

Long Lake Conservation Center (LLCC) in Palisade is located about 125 miles north of the Twin Cities, making it a convenient getaway for memorable stargazing under Minnesota’s dark skies. Space is limited for this event, so early registration is recommended. Questions? Contact LLCC at 218-768-4653 or info@longlakecc.org.

Event Features

  • Opportunities to view objects through the MAS’s largest aperture
    telescopes – the 25” and 30” Obsession telescopes.
  • Excellent staging sites for setting up/using your scope with on-field electricity.
  • An optional observing list to challenge your skills.
  • Participant door prizes and observing list prizes awarded.
  • Comfortable modern “bunkhouse” lodging. Each room has four single bunks with its own bathroom and shower. Single occupancy available.
  • Presentations by MAS club members, astronomical experts and scholars.
  • Meals and snacks provided by LLCC, purchased à la carte with pre-registration.
  • Daytime activities, including presentations, swap meet, canoeing, and exploring Aitkin County.
  • Door prize drawings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Northern Nights Star Fest?

Northern Nights Star Fest ( NNSF) is a star party designed to meet the needs of serious observers and astrophotographers. Informational lectures and other events are tailored to interest experienced amateur astronomers. Participants bring their own telescopes, or after successful completion of training, use the large scopes belonging to MAS. All are welcome to register, but should understand that people are paying for and driving hundreds of miles for this event under some of the darkest skies in Minnesota. Avoid anything (lights, equipment or behavior) that detracts from the dark sky experience. Flashlights must be dim and red, laptop or camera screens must be dimmed with a red filter (laptops ideally enclosed in a box or other light shield), and equipment with indicator lights other than dim/red should be covered or subdued.

Information About Who Can Attend

Can my 16–17 year old attend by themselves?

Minors (those 17 or under) can attend if registered, but must be under the supervision of an onsite registered adult. The minor’s parent or guardian must sign the liability form.

Can I stop in and visit during NNSF?

To minimize disruptions to the activities of paying attendees, casual visits are discouraged. Participation in presentations and observing is intended for registered guests. MAS does provide other options and venues for exposure to astronomy including free public nights at the Eagle Lake Observatory. For Members there are regular LLCC star parties.

Who can attend NNSF?

Anyone 18 years old or older can register and attend. MAS Membership is not required.

Parking & Camping Information

Can I park on the observing field?

Vehicles are allowed on the observing field to offload, but then should park in one of the designated parking lots. There are a limited number of parking spots at the perimeter of the observing field. These are available on a first-come basis.

Can I camp?

Yes – tent camping and RV camping is possible. We are offering the ability to park your camper at LLCC, but it is not a true camp ground. 110VAC (15A) electrical service is available, but not water or sewer hookups. Trailer/RV parking would be on the parking lot behind the dining hall. Tent camping would be on the grass area to the south of the Marcum house. Basic amenities (water and toilet) are available in the dining hall. We are looking at the possibility of providing a shared room for showering (TBD). Cooking is possible near the camper with a grill outside. There is no formal dish washing area.

Registration & Pricing Information

Do we have to register to attend for a single night?

All of the activities, day or night, are intended for registered guests only.

How much does it cost to come for just one day?

Registration is $50 per person. The basic lodging package is $15 per person per day, based on triple occupancy, or $60 for the full five days. You can upgrade to a double occupancy room for $25 per person per day, or $100 for the full five days. You can also upgrade to a single occupancy room for $50 per per person per day, or $200 for the full five days. A camper rate of $15 per night is available.

What does it cost for just one night?

Registration is $50 per person. The basic lodging package is $15 per person per day, based on triple occupancy. You can upgrade to a double occupancy room for $25 per per person per day. Rooms are generally all reserved prior to the event.

For a one-day trip, if I pay, do my kids need to also register/pay?

Unlike most MAS star parties, the NNSF is organized with the experienced amateur astronomer in mind. We do not have special rates for children; all who attend are expected to register and pay for the facility and services offered. However, we do enjoy sharing the night sky with the community at free public star parties.  These are frequently held at the Eagle Lake Observatory, occasionally at LLCC, and are listed in the MAS website calendar.