Cook County chapter of Starry Skies North celebrates Dark Sky Week
International Dark Sky Week is a globally recognized event celebrating the importance of preserving dark skies and reducing light pollution. The weeklong event brings people together worldwide to raise awareness about the adverse effects of light pollution on the environment, wildlife, and human health. The weeklong celebration began on April 15 and will wrap up on Earth Day on April 22.
The local Cook County chapter of Starry Skies North has been instrumental in promoting the significance of preserving dark skies in the Arrowhead region. Since its formation in 2022, the chapter has advocated for Cook County and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to make a proclamation stating the significance and recognition of dark skies in the northeast region. Most recently, the chapter attended the April 12 Grand Marais City Council meeting to request the city make a dark sky proclamation. The city council approved the proclamation.
Mark Morgen, a member of the Cook County chapter of Starry Skies North, said he became involved in the chapter because of the area’s beauty, particularly the opportunity to view northern lights and the stars. “I think it’s just awesome to be able to look out over the skies, Lake Superior, anywhere, and just see so many stars. And that’s kind of what led me to see if we can make it better.”
In addition to Morgen’s passion for preserving dark skies, he enjoys and participates in night photography and frequently captures photos of the milky way or northern lights. Morgen said the most recent northern lights show on March 23 reinforced his commitment to dark sky advocacy. “It just reinforces all the excitement that you get when you look up in the sky.”
As Cook County residents and visitors celebrate Dark Sky Week, Morgen said the chapter asks that homeowners and business owners be mindful of light pollution. Morgen noted many solutions to reduce light pollution, including turning off lights, putting lights on a timer, changing exterior fixtures, or using lower-wattage bulbs.
To learn more about ways to reduce light pollution, the Cook County chapter of Starry Skies North will have a booth at the upcoming Earth Day fair in Grand Marais on April 22. The 2nd annual Earth Day fair will be held at the Cook County Community Center and take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Morgen said he is looking forward to talking to people at the event and helping to educate them about light pollution.
After the Earth Day fair, the chapter welcomes individuals to Voyageur Brewing Company to meet other members and sign up as a member if interested.
In addition, to the recent dark sky proclamation from the city of Grand Marais, and the upcoming Earth Day fair, the chapter has been busy brainstorming ideas and working with Visit Cook County to help promote dark sky programs and initiatives.
Travis Novitsky, a member of Starry Skies North and a local nature photographer recently collaborated with PBS North on a documentary featuring dark skies in Minnesota’s north country. The documentary is titled ‘Northern Nights, Starry Skies’. View the documentary here.
WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Mark Morgen about the local Cook County chapter of Starry Skies North and the upcoming Dark Sky Week celebrations. Audio from the interview is below.