Northern Lights Tour: Wisconsin Science Hits the Road July 27-31

Colorful bands of the Aurora Borealis, or "northern lights," glow in the nighttime sky above Lake Mendota near Observatory Hill at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during a strong solar storm in the northern hemisphere at 12:49 a.m. on June 23, 2015. The solar storm, a phenomenon rarely visible this far south above the U.S., registered 8 on the Kp scale for planetary geomagnetic activity. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Science will light up the night in northern Wisconsin this summer as scientists and educators from UW-Madison and UW-Extension hit the road for the first Northern Lights Tour, a five-stop exposition of research with local and regional impact.

The tour, an extension of UW-Madison’s Wednesday Nite@the Lab, produced in conjunction with UW-Extension and Wisconsin Public Television (WPT), will swing across the northern parts of Wisconsin beginning July 27 in Sturgeon Bay and concluding July 31 in Barron. Stops in between include Marinette, Rhinelander and Ashland.

The two-hour programs will feature talks on the National Ice Age Trail, Wisconsin beaches, maritime archaeology, aquaculture, wild rice, avian influenza and bats, among other topics. The events will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. and are free and open to the public. WPT will also record the talks for later broadcast on its University Place series and the programs will be available for streaming in archive at

Dates, venues and topics for the tour include:

-July 27, Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay, with talks on the National Ice Age Trail, Wisconsin beaches, and Door County maritime archaeology.

-July 28, Theatre on the Bay at UW-Marinette, featuring presentations on challenges on forest and wildlife management, trends in Wisconsin biotechnology, and the environmental restoration of Menekaunee Harbor.

-July 29, Rhinelander High School, with talks on potato breeding in the north woods and the Wisconsin Bat Project.

-July 30, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, profiling northern Wisconsin’s hazelnut industry, aquaculture, and concentrated animal feeding operations.

-July 31, Barron Area Community Center, with talks on reclaiming nonmetallic mining sites, avian influenza, and the history of wild rice.

Terry Devitt/July 20