Treasures of the Night Sky 

It begins with a faint glimmer, just a hint of brightness on the northern horizon, then builds, rising like an aria. Soon, the night sky is glowing green and red, dancing with light, shimmering like diamonds. The aurora is out. The northern lights are gleaming above the Bayfield peninsula.

Sometimes, the greatest gifts in life are free. Take a blanket, walk barefoot onto one of Bayfield’s beaches or an Apostle Islands campsite. Lie on your back and look up. “To watch the white sail of a full moon gliding across the stars or see the brushstroke of the Milky Way or the flicker of northern lights painting the night sky is to witness one of true the wonders of the world, a gift of nature,” says Jeff Rennicke, a night sky photographer and Executive Director of Friends of the Apostle Islands.

Lighthouse Starry Night Sky

“Artificial light pollutes the night sky for more than 80% of the world’s population,” Rennicke says. “One third of humanity cannot see the Milky Way at night due to the luminescent glow of artificial light. But here in the Bayfield area, the night sky still shimmers with beauty.”

The Apostle Islands and the Bayfield peninsula are home to some of the darkest skies in the lower 48 states. Far from the big cities, with clear air, and miles of open horizons, this area is a mecca for night sky viewing – the Milky Way arching across the sky, the constellations spelling out wonder, falling stars punctuating it all. Summer of 2024 marks the “solar maximum” a time expected to bring some of the best northern light displays in years attracting night sky viewers from across the nation.

Northern Lights Over Lake Superior_ Jeff Rennicke


  • Pick a place away from city lights – a beach, a boardwalk, an open field – and scout it out in daylight to be sure it is safe.
  • Download one of the many sky-watching apps such as SkySafari, StarWalk, or the NASA app to help keep you informed about the night sky.
  • If you are seeking northern lights, plan your trip for a moonless period for the darkest skies.
  • Plan to stay out late. The long days of summer mean skies are darkest from midnight until 3 am.
  • Give your eyes time to adjust fully.
  • Star watching can be done with the naked eye or by using a small telescope, a camera with a zoom lens, even binoculars to enhance the view.
  • Join an organization like Friends of the Apostle Islands to help protect and raise awareness of the beauties of the night sky.

The Northern Lights Over Honeymoon Rock

“Our dark skies are a gift filled with beauty and wonder,” Rennicke says, “open and available to all by simply stepping out at night and looking up.”

For more information on the night sky and to help protect our dark skies, contact Friends of the Apostle Islands at 715-449-6900 or visit their website

All photos taken and submitted by Jeff Rennicke.