Look back on all the exciting years of the Aurora Summit!
This page lists past events only. It does not contain current information. We’ll use this space to keep a record of past events, so people can find past presentations, reminisce about past presenters, or get an idea of what to expect at the annual conference.
In the Archives, you’ll find:
- A Brief History
- Event Recaps, Presentation Topics & Conference Schedules
- Keynote Speakers, Featured Presenters & Panelists
- Program Details, Links & Past FAQs
History of the Aurora Summit
In our inaugural year, we welcomed 101 people from more than eight states and provinces to northern Minnesota, including guests from as far as Georgia and Manitoba. Learn more About the Aurora Summit.
Our Inaugural Event!
Aurora Summit 17
Celebrating the Art, Culture, Science, and Photography of the Aurora Borealis
Friday, Oct. 27 – Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017
Two Harbors, Minnesota
Register: AuroraSummit17.MikeShawPhotography.com (Closed)
Aurora Summit 18
Celebrating the Art, Culture, Science, and Photography of the Aurora Borealis
Friday, Nov. 2 – Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018
Two Harbors, Minnesota
Register: http://aurorasummit18.eventzilla.net/ (Closed)
Aurora Summit 19
Celebrating the Art, Culture, Science, and Photography of the Aurora Borealis
Friday, Nov. 1 – Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019
The Washburn Inn & Harbor View Event Center
Register: https://aurorasummit19.eventzilla.net/ (Closed)
Aurora Summit 20: Postponed Due to the Global Pandemic
Aurora Summit 21
Do you have more questions? Get answers with the FAQ.
Recap: POSTPONED Aurora Summit 20
ATTENTION: Due to the global health pandemic and the economic challenges impacting so many people, the 4th Annual Aurora Summit has been postponed until 2021.
Join us for the Aurora Summit! This three-day workshop celebrates the art, culture, science, and photography of the Aurora Borealis.
We’re planning a great weekend, featuring opportunities to hear from celebrities in the Aurora Chasing and Storm Chasing world, as well as scientists, photographers, artists, storytellers, astronomers and more. The event includes:
- Featured Keynote Speaker
- Educational Sessions
- Night Sky Photography
- Photography and/or Post Processing Workshops
- Panel Discussion
- Aurora Jeopardy
- Prizes, Special Features & More
If we don’t see the Aurora Borealis and photograph it together at the Aurora Summit, you’ll leave knowing how to capture a good display on your own!
Want to know what an Aurora Summit looks like? In 2019, we offered an amazing Schedule!
Recap: Aurora Summit 19
During Aurora Summit 19, we featured Keynote Speaker Chris Ratcliff, the admin of the Alberta Aurora Chasers, and leader of the citizen science behind STEVE, the sub auroral arc! Aurora Summit 19 took place in a new location — Washburn, Wisconsin, just south of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore!
For discounted rates at the host hotel, call and mention the Aurora Summit!
RSVP on Facebook!
2019 Featured Keynote Speaker
We’re proud to announce the keynote speaker for the Aurora Summit! Alberta Aurora Chasers Admin Chris Ratzlaff will present his experience as a “chaser of elusive things” at the Aurora Summit, slated for Nov. 1-3, 2019, in Washburn, Wisconsin.
Specifically, Chris chases storms, Aurora, and the odd bubble frozen at ridiculously cold temperatures. Chris has always been fascinated by the sky and snapping photos of it, but it’s really in the last few years that he discovered a passion for catching and photographing the elusive sights offered by powerful storms and the vibrant Aurora that many never have much opportunity to witness. Check out Chris Ratzlaff Photography for more!
His passion is built upon a love for learning about the causes of these events, which helps to predict (with wildly varying accuracy, and often lack-thereof) when and where these elusive phenomena can be caught. This led Chris to become a Citizen Science Leader in the Aurora community. Chris has helped bring the observations of the Alberta Aurora Chasers to the attention of the scientific community and to represent Aurora Chasers in some of the scientific research that followed the discovery of the narrow, purple band of light we’ve come to know as STEVE.
Want to know how this sub auroral arc, also known as the Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, became Phenomenal STEVE? Chris was the “goofball” to propose the name STEVE as a temporary name for that band of light!
Registration launches in June. To sign up, visit: TheAuroraSummit.com
2019 Featured Presenters
Many outstanding ideas and proposals were entered to the Aurora Summit, through the submission process on our website. With so much talent in the room, we had to make some tough choices when it came to presenters.
We’re excited to announce the featured presenters for Aurora Summit 19! Follow our social media channels to learn more.
Aurora Summit 2019 Presenters:
• Chris Ratzlaff, Presenter and Keynote Speaker, Admin of the Albert Aurora Chasers and a storm chaser of national fame. He was featured in a documentary series called “The Nature of Things: The Wonder of the Northern Lights.”
• Christy Turner, an internationally-commissioned travel and lifestyle photographer who has traveled to more than 74 countries so far, photographing the Milky Way in Africa, the aurora in Iceland and chasing substorms in the Yukon. She was featured in a Telus documentary series called “Chasing Steve.”
• Bob King, Photojournalist, creator of Astro Bob, and author of three books including “Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die” and his forthcoming book, “Urban Legends of Space,” which examines science vs. pseudoscience in astronomy.
• Christian Harris, Founder and Admin of Space Weather Trackers who holds a B.S. in Astrophysics from The Ohio State University, and participated as a contributor to the Sunjammer project.
• Roger D. Feldhans, a night photographer and light painter who began creating images on film and uses a combination of professional and homemade tools to create images at events such as the International Day of Light.
• Mark Ellis, a lifelong photographer whose time-lapse, photography and video have been licensed by BBC News and National Geographic WILD.
• Matthew Moses, a freelance photographer with a deep understanding of astronomy and space weather who strives to deliver the photos that capture the memories and emotions of the scene.
• Amber Nichols, Admin of Frozen Photographers and president of the Duluth Superior Camera Club, who works a freelance photographer and knows the secrets to shooting in subzero weather.
• Paul Nelson, a retired engineer from Michigan who brings an attention to detail and technical requirements to his approach to photography. One of his images was published on NationalGeographic.com as part of an article about Northern Lights in the Lower 48 states.
• Jamie Rabold, Admin of Frozen Photographers, photographer and light painter who photographs everything from the stars and aurora borealis, to many forms of light painting.
For more on the Aurora Borealis, our founders will also present! They include:
• Host Mike Shaw, Presenting on astrophotography
• Dixie J. Burbank, Presenting the travelogue
• Melissa F. Kaelin, Presenting on Aurora legends & mythology
2019 Featured Panelists
The panel discussion included:
• Chris Ratzlaff, Admin of the Albert Aurora Chasers
• Christy Turner, an internationally-commissioned travel and lifestyle photographer
• Royce Bair, Founder of NightScaper
• Brian Murphy Slattum, Admin of Upper Midwest Aurora Chasers
• Jackie LaPointe, World traveler and night sky photographer
Recap: Aurora Summit 18
We are proud to announce the line-up of presenters for the Aurora Summit! On top of a full weekend program, Aurora Summit 18 will feature many breakout sessions, offering 12 presentations on Saturday related to the Northern Lights, Photography and the Night Sky.
During the simultaneous breakout sessions, experts present a wide variety of topics about the art, culture, science and photography of the Northern Lights. Guests may choose one presentation from each time slot, for a total of four. New this year, presentations will be rated Beginner (B), Intermediate (I) or Advanced (A). Here is the line-up for the Aurora Summit 18!
2018 SATURDAY SESSIONS
1) Basics for Night Sky Photography (B), with Terry Mann
Find out what it takes to capture aurora photos at night, beginning with camera basics. From camera settings to focusing at night, you’ll get tips from a seasoned photographer that will help you get started in night photography or improve the quality of your images.
2) From Apps to Kp: Aurora Forecasting for Beginners (B), with Bob King
Get a crash course in aurora forecasting, with advice that’s fit for absolute beginners. You’ll learn what creates a stunning aurora display, how to track and monitor space weather, and where to find information that will help you plan your next aurora chase.
3) 10 Keys to Gain a Social Media Following (I), with Jerry Thoreson
Want to get more eyes on your photography and online presence using social media? This session will give you pointers on best practices to use on Instagram and Facebook that will generate more engagement and help you build your social media following.
1) Essential Software and Apps for Aurora Chasers and Photographers (B), with Michael Jordan
Gain a broad knowledge for creating better photographs of auroras using essential software and apps to develop a plan that you can execute on location, with a focus on artistic elements.
2) Aurora Culture and Mythology (B), with Jim Rock
Delve into the culture and mythology surrounding the Northern Lights with a native of the Dakota, who is also versed in Ojibwe heritage. You’ll learn about the meaning and connections people have formed with the Northern Lights, over the course of centuries.
3) The Juno Mission and Jupiter’s Aurora (B), with Dave Falkner
For two years, the Juno spacecraft has been in a polar orbit around Jupiter studying the planet and its atmosphere. Find out what discoveries it has made about Jupiter, with special emphasis on the Jovian aurora and contrasting it with Earth’s aurora.
1) Aurora Borealis: A Photographer’s Guide to Geomagnetic Midnight (I), with Michael Jordan
Get a brief overview of the key points a photographer should know and understand in order to to capture the aurora. The photographer has developed a simple recipe for aurora forecasting with the importance of geomagnetic midnight, as part of a guide that includes hierarchy modes of auroral morphology, the auroral atlas and onset observation sectors of storm phases.
2) Meet STEVE: The Aurora Getting All the Attention (I), with Bob King
Amateur aurora photographers helped uncover an unusual form of the Northern Lights called STEVE, which stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Pay a visit to this unique phenomenon to get to know STEVE better.
3) Aurora from Satellites Above and Photographers Below (I), with Margaret Mooney
VIIRS is the only satellite instrument able to detect the Aurora Borealis, producing only 4 to 6 snapshots of the North American aurora each night. This presentation will share stunning VIIRS Aurora imagery before describing an effort from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) to match satellite images with citizen science ground-based pictures.
1) Deep-Sky with Your D-SLR: Getting the Right Camera Gear (I), with Joe Polecheck
Get an overview of what camera gear and apps work best for planning and capturing the Milky Way, the Northern Lights and light painted scenes. You’ll come away knowing what equipment to use at night, including camera bodies, lenses, and intervelometers.
2) No Aurora Yet? Camera Techniques to Capture Elusive Light (A), with Terry Mann
Don’t waste clear skies! Learn the different types of imaging you can do while you are waiting for the aurora to appear, drawing on the photographer’s experience with light painting, aurora, star trails, the moon, storms and lightning, and even solar eclipses.
3) Establishing an International Dark Sky Park (B), with Mary Stewart Adams
Be inspired to find your stars again! Hear from the leader who took the initiative to establish the ninth International Dark Sky Park in the world at the Headlands in Northwest Lower Michigan in 2011, which was the first park to ever receive the International Dark Sky Place of the Year Award. Learn how you can make an impact in your community with dark skies.
SUNDAY SPECIAL FEATURES
The Aurora Summit team is building out the Sunday schedule, and new features will be announced as the event approaches!
• Travelogue Presentation, with Alaska Adventurers
• Between Fire and Ice: Desert Nights and Arctic Lights, including an outlook on Celestial Sights for 2019, presented by Bob Kelley, Retired Planetarium Director of the Scobee Education Center Planetarium
• Grande Finale!
Sessions may be subject to change.
For details, check out the 2018 Conference Schedule.
2018 Featured Keynote Speaker
Mary Stewart Adams will present a keynote speech on “The Storyteller’s Night Sky,” during the Saturday evening banquet at Aurora Summit 18.
Mary is a self-described star lore historian who led the successful initiative to establish Michigan’s only International Dark Sky Park in 2011, and for nine years led the park to award-winning recognition for innovative programming and dark sky advocacy, including the top Pure Michigan “Pure Award” for stewardship of the state’s natural resources, and the first-ever International Dark Sky Place of the Year Award from the International Dark Sky Association, in 2017.
Mary has received many honors for her work, and travels extensively teaching a humanities-based approach to understanding the night sky. You can hear Mary’s “The Storyteller’s Night Sky” each week on Interlochen Public Radio and online. The traveling exhibit of her “Images from the Storyteller’s Night Sky” showcases years of storytelling through watercolor art by her sister, artist Patricia DeLisa.
Keynote: “The Storyteller’s Night Sky”
“The night sky can be read like a mighty book, the alphabet of which is formed out of the human striving of ages to understand life’s greatest mysteries. The ancient Egyptians built pyramids and aligned them to the stars; in the Middle Ages, mighty cathedrals aimed upward to the highest mystery; and here in the 21st century, this striving is still so consistent and pervasive, that scientists also position arrays of telescopes in specific places for getting the best views in order to answer the same questions. To “know the stars” through the striving of human beings is like building a ladder out of the greatest achievements in literature, in art, in research, agriculture, architecture, civic organization, the list is endless. And so the storyteller’s approach, which allows us to dip into the mythologies, the sometimes wild imaginations, and to the sciences for finding our own answers.”
— Mary Stewart Adams
2018 Featured Presenters
Many outstanding ideas and proposals were entered for presentations at Aurora Summit 18, through the submission process on our website. With so much talent in the room, we had to make some tough choices when it came to presenters.
We’re excited to announce the featured presenters for Aurora Summit 18! Follow our social media channels to learn more.
Aurora Summit 2018 Presenters:
• Mary Stewart Adams, Presenter and Keynote Speaker, Host of The Storyteller’s Night Sky on Interlochen Public Radio and Founder of Headlands International Dark Sky Park
• Dave Falkner, NASA Solar System Ambassador and author of the book “The Mythology of the Night Sky – An Amateur Astronomer’s Guide to the Ancient Greek and Roman Legends”
• Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan. Photographer and traveler who grew up on the savannahs of Africa, venturing through nature, sailing oceans, hiking remote locations, underwater diving and paddling turbulent waters
• Bob Kelley, Retired Planetarium Director who led a 40-year career at the Scobee Education Center Planetarium, serving as both as planetarium director and “Mission Flight Director” in the new Challenger Learning Center. He has always had a passion for celestial photography, taking several trips to Alaska to image the Northern Lights or to the deserts of west Texas to enjoy the darkest skies on Earth and views of the Milky Way.
• Bob King, Photojournalist, creator of Astro Bob, and author of two books including “Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die”
• Terry Mann, Photographer and traveler who leads workshops in Wyoming, and whose experiences include Alaska Aurora chases, the Venus Transit in Egypt, storm chasing, climbing to a summit in the Andes Mountains, and witnessing three Solar Eclipses
• Margaret Mooney, Director of Education and Public Outreach at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), who works with citizen science
• Jim Rock, Program Director of the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium with interest in Ethno-astronomy and Archeoastronomy
• Jerry Thoreson, Independent Social Media Marketer and admin of Destination Duluth
2018 Featured Panelists
The panel discussion included:
• Bob King, Author and Photojournalist at Astro Bob’s Astronomy for Everyone
• Terry Mann, of ElusiveLightImages.com
• Bob Kelley, Retired Planetarium Director for the Scobee Education Center
• Jess Kowalke, Admin for Upper Midwest Aurora Chasers
Aurora Summit 18: Conference Schedule
Aurora Summit 18, the second annual conference, will feature a keynote speaker, educational sessions, a panel discussion, a banquet with an Aurora Slideshow, and many opportunities for night sky photography. We also have some special features planned!
Check out our Events page to learn about the presenters!
The final conference schedule for Aurora Summit 18 is posted below. Activities may be subject to change.
AURORA SUMMIT 18
Friday, Nov. 2 — Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018
All activities take place at Superior Shores Resort & Conference Center, located on Lake Superior’s shore, in Two Harbors, Minnesota.
FRIDAY, NOV. 2
2:00pm – 5:00pm: Registration at Host Hotel
5:00pm: Conference opens with Meet and Greet
5:00pm: Cash Bar
7:00 – 9:00pm: Dinner Buffet (Included in Registration)
8:00-9:00pm: Aurora Matters! Panel Discussion
9:00pm: After Hours Activities
• Night photography on your own
SATURDAY, NOV. 3
9:00 – 9:55am: Session I
• Basics for Night Sky Photography
• From Apps to Kp: Aurora Forecasting for Beginners
• 10 Keys to Gain a Social Media Following
10:15 – 11:10am: Session II
• Essential Software and Apps for Aurora Chasers and Photographers
• Aurora Culture and Mythology
• The Juno Mission and Jupiter’s Aurora
11:30 – Noon: Aurora Chasers Atlas — Meet new travel companions!
Noon – 1:30pm: Boxed Lunch (Included in Registration)
1:30 – 2:25pm: Session III
• Aurora Borealis: A Photographer’s Guide
• Meet STEVE: The Aurora Getting All the Attention
• Aurora from Satellites Above and Photographers Below
2:45 – 3:40pm: Session IV
• Deep-Sky with Your D-SLR: Getting the Right Camera Gear
• Establishing an International Dark Sky Park
• No Aurora Yet? Camera Techniques to Capture Elusive Light
3:45pm: Group Photo in the Lobby
5:00: Cash Bar Opens
6:00-9:00pm: Aurora Summit Banquet (Included in Registration)
• Featuring Keynote Speaker Mary Stewart Adams
• Aurora Slideshow
9:00pm: After Hours Activities on Superior Shores Beach
• Night Photography
• Aurora Chasing
• Light Painting
• Beach Bonfire
SUNDAY, NOV. 4
Sunday Special Features
9:00-10:00am: Travelogue Presentation, with tour group from Alaska Adventures
10:00-10:30am: Break for check out; Book signings
10:30-11:30am: Between Fire and Ice: Desert Nights and Arctic Lights
• Including an outlook on Celestial Sights for 2019
11:30am: Grand Finale: Aurora Awards, Raffle Prizes, Photo Review
12:30pm: Farewell; Lunch on your own
Opportunities After Hours
At the Aurora Summit, there’s time to enjoy other activities on your own, before and after each conference day. Located on the hotel property, Superior Shores Beach in Flood Bay offers a pebble beach perfect for viewing and photographing the Northern Lights.
Opportunities after hours include:
• Sunrise Photography on Lake Superior’s North Shore
• Rock Beach Bonfire at Superior Shores
• Night Photography, Aurora Chasing & Light Painting
Recap: Aurora Summit 17
The Aurora Summit brings in expert photographers, scientists, authors, folklorists and artists who volunteer their time to present on topics related to the Northern Lights. Session topics vary from year to year, but they usually include a combination of scientific subjects, photography techniques, adventure guides and storytelling.
Presentations in 2017 included:
• How to Set Your Camera for Aurora Photography
• What to See & Photograph in the Night Sky
• Phenomenal Light Painting
• How to Post Process Aurora Photographs
• Aurora Folklore & Mythology
• Shooting the Milky Way
• Planning Trophy Nightscapes
• Intro to Forecasting Aurora
• Bizarre Nights: Fireballs, Proton Arcs, Iridium Flares and More
2017 Featured Keynote Speaker
At the inaugural conference, we were proud to present our keynote speaker, Bob King, creator of Astro Bob’s Astronomy for Everyone and the author of Night Sky with the Naked Eye and Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die. Bob presented “How to Keep Your Eyes (and Ears) on the Aurora” during the Saturday evening banquet at Aurora Summit 17.
Creator of Astro Bob’s Astronomy for Everyone, Bob King has enjoyed the night sky and astronomy since childhood but chose photojournalism as his vocation and made the stars his lifetime hobby. He grew up in Illinois and received a teaching degree in German from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Because photography was another early passion, he worked as a photographer at a newspaper in Champaign before moving to Duluth to work at the News Tribune, where he’s been the photo editor since 1990.
He writes a regular astronomy blog called Astro Bob and teaches community education astronomy classes at the UMD planetarium. Bob also writes for the online astronomy websites Sky & Telescope and Universe Today. He lives in Duluth with his wife Linda and has two children, Katie and Maria.
His book “Night Sky with the Naked Eye,” published in November 2016, is an activity-based book aimed at both beginning and amateur astronomers. In it he guides readers to all the wonderful things visible in the night sky without special equipment. It covers satellites, the aurora, the brighter constellations, nighttime clouds and halo phenomena, planets, the moon, meteor showers and much more. He’s working on a second book about the sky to be published in spring 2018.
2017 Featured Presenters
Many outstanding talents came forward to present at Aurora Summit 17. Below are the featured presenters for Aurora Summit 17, the first-ever Aurora Summit!
- Bob King, Keynote Speaker and Presenter, Astro Bob’s Astronomy for Everyone
Author of Night Sky With the Naked Eye
- Heidi Pinkerton, Presenter and Sponsor, Root River Photography
- Matthew Moses, Presenter, Matthew Moses Photography
- Jamie Rabold, Presenter, Admin of Frozen Photographers, Willowmaker Images
- Amber Nichols, Presenter, Amber’s Impressions Photography
- Kirk Schleife, Presenter
- Les Conrad, Presenter, Les Conrad Photography
- Melissa F. Kaelin, Presenter and Panelist, Melissa F. Kaelin Art
- Bob Conzemius, Presenter and Panelist, TornadoBob.com
- Dixie J. Burbank, Travelogue Presenter, Dixie J Digital
- Mike Shaw, Presenter, Mike Shaw Photography
Author of The Complete Guide to Landscape Astrophotography
2017 Featured Panelists
The panel discussion included:
• Richard Hoeg, Admin of Northern Lights | Lake Superior Region, 365 Days of Birds,
• Michael Jordan, World traveler and photographer at Pilgrimage Photography
• Bonnie Tiedt, Photographer and world traveler
• Bob Conzemius, Meteorologist and storm chaser
• Melissa F. Kaelin, Writer and Admin of Aurora and Night Sky Adventures
Q. How much does the conference cost?
A. Regular Admission has been set to $175 for Aurora Summit 19. The cost covers all meals and all conference activities, including more than 18 educational presentations to choose from, a banquet featuring the keynote speaker and Aurora Slideshow, a panel discussion, hands-on night demonstrations, a travelogue, swag and special programming.
You may also choose from two dinner options:
• $69 for Banquet Only which covers all Saturday evening activities, or
• $89 for Friday Dinner + Banquet Only which covers all evening activities throughout the conference.
Q. I’ve seen several locations listed. Where will Aurora Summit 19 be held?
A. Aurora Summit 19 will be held in Washburn, Wisconsin.
This is a change from years past. The organizers considered the options carefully and looked into hosting the event in Duluth or the surrounding region. Due to high costs and light pollution that would make Aurora viewing difficult, we decided to choose a scenic location in a new state. We hope the short drive from Duluth will encourage many longstanding guests to join us!
Q. Why did you change the date and location for 2019?
A. There were many factors in this decision. The previous venue changed their business model, which led to an increase in room rates and an increase in facility rental costs — these costs nearly tripled. Guests were already paying a lot for the catered meals, so we decided it was time for a change. The new venue for 2019 will give us many of the same amenities in a scenic location about 40 miles south of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. We’re confident this venue will provide wonderful natural views and amazing service!
NOTE: This page is reserved for Archives. Information here does not apply to the current event.