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Dark-Sky Sites:

Minnesota

 

 

 

  Sites:

 
Town: Argyle

Observing site: Old Mill State Park

Address: Route 1, Box 43

Zip Code: 56713

Contact person: Old Mill State Park Ranger's Office

Telephone number: (218) 437-8174

URL:  http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/parks_and_recreation/state_parks/old_mill

Restrictions: A Minnesota State Park Vehicle Permit ($4 per day, $20 per year)

Directions: Old Mill is located on Marshall County Highway 4, between Argyle and Newfolden, northeast of Grand Forks.  From Newfolden, go 11 miles west on County Road 4.  From Argyle, go 12 miles east on County Road 4, then 1 mile north on County Road 4 to County Road 39.  It is well marked. Virtually anywhere in the Park is good, the parking lot, the campground, the swimming area.  Create a map using Mapquest.com.

Current weather:  Click for Argyle, Minnesota Forecast

How are the sky conditions? Unbelievable. There is not a major population center (over 10,000) within 100 miles. The person who submitted this site writes that he has seen a 7th-magnitude star with his eyes alone!  He also says that this park virtually empty and that there are no lights on the horizon whatsoever.

Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night: Mag 6.5 - 7 in all directions.  No obstructions: this is BIG SKY country!  The only obstructions are trees that are low and about 300 yards away from the main parking lot as you come in the front gate.

Comments from contributor:  Argyle Site has completely open sky in all directions. Limiting magnitude is 
about 7 -- really. Unbearably cold in the winter, but sky conditions are outstanding with no airglow or light pollution.

If you ask the park ranger at the front gate to turn off all of the lights in the park, most nights they will. The park is almost always on the list for closure due to the few visitors it gets. During the winter they plow the parking lot for people to slide down a little hill. You can see within 5 degrees of the horizon in all directions. This is the prairie.  Most people think northern Minnesota is all trees.  Not so. This area is wide open. The land is very flat. I have stood on my porch and seen the green flash at sun down a number of times. I think that is pretty much 
the definition of horizon!

So, no obstructions, no light pollution, and no population around. The sky up there disorients a lot of people. There are so many stars that it takes people from metro areas a few minutes to get their bearings.

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Town:  McGregor

Observing site: Savannah Portage State Park

Address:  55626 Lake Place

Zip Code: 55760

Telephone number: (218) 426-3271

URL:  http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/savanna_portage/index.html

Any restrictions:  Minnesota State Park Vehicle Permit ($4/Single Or $20/Year) required

Directions: Take Highway 65 north to Aitkin County Road 14, then follow 14 for 11 miles to the park. Google Map.

Current weather:    Click for McGregor, Minnesota Forecast

How are the sky conditions?  Excellent. There is hardly any light pollution, and the zenith is around seventh magnitude. Many trees, but if you find a clearing near a lake, the sky is outstanding in all directions.

 
Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 7.0
     East: 6.5
     West: 7.0
     North: 6.5
     South: 6.5

Comments from contributor:   none

Errors in this listing?  Click here to submit corrections.

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Town:  Theilman

Observing site: Bronk Management Unit

Address: none (see directions below)

Contact person: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Telephone number: (800) 766-4040

Any restrictions: none

Directions: From Winona, take Highway 14 west to Stockton, MN (about 5 miles). Turn right onto County Road 23. Go about two miles and then turn right onto Hillsdale Township Road No. 6. Proceed to end of road, maybe .5 mile. This is a gravel parking lot.  Google map

Current weather:  Click for Winona, Minnesota Forecast
 
How are the sky conditions? Adequate. Not exactly dark sky, but darker than in town. There are absolutely no artificial lights visible from here.

Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night: maybe 4.5 to 5.0

Best horizon: West, 35 degrees

Worst horizon: East 60 degrees

Comments from contributor: This is a MN DNR property, publicly accessible. Watch out - on the way in is a one-lane bridge over a small stream with no sides. There will be fatal levels of mosquito activity in season. The parking lot is nestled close to the hillside, so the field of view is limited by the hill and trees. But this is good for a quick look if you live near Winona, MN.

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