Listen Now
Pledge Now


North Shore Weekend

  • Saturday 7-10am
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.



What's On:
May 2019 Star Map.jpg

Northern Sky: May 11 - 24, 2019

NORTHERN SKY  by  Deane Morrison                May11-24, 2019

Here in mid-May, we have two planets that are fairly bright and busy moving into prime viewing position. Those planets are Jupiter and Saturn, and they’re rising in the southeast earlier every day, but still pretty late. Jupiter makes it up before midnight, but Saturn doesn’t; it follows Jupiter around two hours later. You can also see them in the predawn sky, say 4 to 4:30 a.m. Jupiter is the brightest thing after the moon, and Saturn the next brightest thing to the east of Jupiter.
The planets are about 27 degrees apart, which isn’t very far. Not coincidentally, Earth is getting ready to lap both of them in the race around the sun. Jupiter on June 10, Saturn on July 9. When we lap an outer planet, it’s up all night, which is ideal for viewing. However, summer’s coming, our hemisphere is tilting away from the night sky, and the sun has stolen a big chunk of it. Right now, we can only see Jupiter and/or Saturn very late in the evening or ridiculously early in the morning.
On top of that, between May 11 and 24, the period this broadcast covers, the moon will be big and bright enough to wash out a lot of the stars that form a backdrop for the planets.
Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Let’s look at what the moon can do for us. The evening of the 11th, it’ll be at first quarter phase. This is a good time to pull out your binoculars or small telescope and have a look at the moon. During quarter phases, the moon is 90 degrees from the sun, and lunar features, like craters, appear in sharp relief. Just east of the moon, you’ll see Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, the lion. Regulus is the dot in a backward question mark of stars called the Sickle, which outlines the lion’s head.
A night or two later, on the 12th or 13th, the moon will have moved farther east in Leo. The lunar features will still stand out, and a famous one will now be lighted. That’s the Tycho crater, which was named after the great Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who died in 1601 at age 54. The crater is near the south pole of the moon and is about 53 miles across. It’s remarkable for the long bright lines radiating from it; these are where material was thrown during the collision with whatever space rock came along and gouged out the crater. The crater has been estimated to be about 100 million years old, which is young for a lunar feature.
Between the 15th and 16th of May, the moon passes between Spica, the only reasonably bright star in Virgo, and brilliant Arcturus, in Bootes, the herdsman. Spica will be below the moon, and much closer to it than Arcturus.
May’s full moon rises over Grand Marais at 8:27 on the evening of the 18th. It crosses the night sky above Antares, the red heart of Scorpius. Over the next several days, the waning moon sweeps past Antares, then Jupiter and Saturn.
In the north, the Big Dipper hangs more or less upside down at nightfall. The two stars at the far end of its bowl—that is, farthest from the handle—point down to Polaris, the North Star. Flanking Polaris, but closer to the horizon, are two bright stars. On the left is Capella, in Auriga, the charioteer, and to the right is Vega, the brightest of the Summer Triangle of bright stars. And if you follow the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle, it’ll take you to Arcturus again.
Deane Morrison writes the Minnesota Starwatch column for the U of M’s Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics.


Spring Bloom by Stephan Hoglund

North Woods Naturalist: Spring changes

Recent snow along the North Shore may have put sping on a brief hold, but, soon enough springtime weather will be upon us.

WTIP's CJ Heithoff spoke with naturalist Chel Anderson about everything that changes in the spring in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.


May 7 Skymap.jpg

Northern Sky: April 27 - May 10, 2019

NORTHERN SKY  by Deane Morrison
April 27-May 10 2019

Here we are again, moving from April into May, and the winter stars are disappearing in the west. But they’re not all gone yet. Case in point, a little while ago, a friend asked me about a couple of bright stars he had seen in the west around nine thirty the night before. Both were about the same distance above the horizon. So I took a good guess, and went out that night, and sure enough, what had caught his eye was the winter stars Procyon, in Canis Minor, the little dog, and Capella, in Auriga, the charioteer. Right now these two stars are getting ready to set for the season. If you haven’t seen them but you’d like to, go outside as soon as the sky gets dark, and you should see two bright stars not far above the western horizon. Procyon is on the left, Capella on the right. Above and between them are the Gemini twins, Pollux, that’s the brighter twin, and Castor.

This winter I’ve talked about all these stars except Capella. It’s a beautiful star, and when it’s low in the sky, Earth’s atmosphere often acts like a prism and makes it twinkle red and green. From the latitude of Grand Marais, it’s a circumpolar star. That is, it travels in a circle around the Pole Star, Polaris, and never sets, although in summer it gets a little too low to see very well. The stars of the Big and Little Dippers are also circumpolar. If you could follow a circumpolar star all day long, you’d see it complete one circle around Polaris every day. And if you noted its position at the same time every night for a year, you’d see it circle Polaris then, too.

Capella is also a multistar system. It has a close pair of big yellow stars, both a lot brighter than the sun and with about 2.5 times its mass. It also has a pair of little red dwarf stars orbiting the big yellow stars at a distance of about 10,000 times the distance of Earth to the sun.
The name Capella refers to the “little female goat” that the charioteer is carrying. Below Capella you may be able to make out three fainter stars that form a narrow triangle. These are called the Kids.

On May 7, Capella will be part of a string of objects lined up diagonally from lower left to upper right at nightfall, but not much longer afterward. Starting at the lower left end, we have Betelgeuse, in Orion; then a young crescent moon; then Mars, and finally Capella. On the evening of May 9, a heftier crescent moon will be between Procyon and Pollux.

And speaking of evenings, sundown on April 30 marks the beginning of the astronomically based Celtic holiday called Beltane. It was one of four cross-quarter days falling midway between an equinox and a solstice. Beltane marked the end of the dark half of the old Celtic year. The dark half began at Halloween, when all the evil spirits were set loose upon the world to vex humankind for the next six months. And that made sense; winter is the time when hunger, cold and diseases like flu run rampant. But when the end of April rolled around, things changed. At sundown on April 30, the nasty spirits came out for a last fling. Then, at sunrise on May 1, the party was over, and the spirits were again banished until sundown on October 31. The night of April 30 is also called Walpurgis night, but only because May 1 is associated with St. Walpurga, who had nothing whatsoever to do with any of this.


Photo from beaumontpete via Flickr

North Woods Naturalist: Bird songs

It's the time of year when the birds start singing away.  WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the physiology behind bird songs in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.  


Pat "Paddy" Bayle along the Gunflint Trail

Historic Cook County: The demise of a trapper along the Gunflint Narrows

There are many stories from the early days of northeast Minnesota, and it’s the mission of the Cook County Historical Society to document and record these glimpses of our past. Here’s an excerpt from a 2008 oral history by LeRoy Creech. Creech recalls a story he’d been told by Pat "Paddy" Bayle about finding the body of a 1900s fur trapper along the Gunflint Narrows.

LeRoy “Lee” Creech was the son of Judge James and Hazel (Andersen) Creech, and lived in “Creechville” in Grand Marais for 75 years. Lee worked at a gas station, the Forest Service, the Cook County School District and also owned and operated the NAPA store in Grand Marais until his retirement in 1993. Lee enjoyed fishing, playing music, and spending time at the family's cabin on Clearwater Lake. Lee died in 2012.

Patrick ”Paddy” Bayle was a former state forester and Cook County sheriff and served for 27 years as area forest ranger. Pat Bayle died in 1954 at the age of 77. The Pat Bayle State Forest is located near Grand Marais.

View the slideshow for photos of Pat "Paddy" Bayle and LeRoy "Lee" Creech.

This feature is a collaboration between WTIP and the Cook County Historical Society, and produced by Martha Marnocha.



Crystal Icicle_JLS Photography-Alaska.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 19, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
April 19, 2019 
Month four is screaming by as we celebrate the “Maple Sugar Moon” in the north woods. While atmospheric conditions in April can be unpredictable, it looks as though things may have settled into a more tolerable state heading into this weekend.                                                                           

Following the near miss of that so called “bomb cyclone” along the Gunflint Trail, it is possible we’ve seen winters’ last gasp. Whereas the Village had a more intense experience with the snow and violent winds, we up at end of the Trail escaped the brunt with two to four snowy inches and minimal wind activity. I guess we should count ourselves blessed with not too much winter hysteria this time around.                                                                                                                                                                                     

At the same time, this neighborhood and others in the upper Trail territory enjoyed the beauty of white ecstasy for a couple days as “Mother Nature” put a band aid on springs’ naked unsightliness. Sadly, we are starting all over again with renewed melting. Just when there were a few dry spots taking over on back country roads, we are back into squishy going again.                                                  

Speaking of melting, as the area heads toward the month’s last segment, folks are talking of lake ice. During the warmth of March, it looked as though ice would not last too long. But with winter raising its hackles over the past three weeks, one cannot be too sure just when “Sky Blue Waters” will be dashing our shores. Here on Gunflint Lake, we’ve even made some ice a few mornings in the last two weeks.                                                                                                        

Some walleye anglers have expressed concern area lakes might remained locked up on opening day, May 10. It seems doubtful to yours truly, although remembering last year the ice went out on the Gunflint gal the morning of opener. So it does, and has happened before that fisher people are nudging ice out of the way to dip a line.                                                                           

While I have yet to hear of any ursine encounters out this way, one has to wonder if on the occasional sunny days, Bruno’s aren’t rubbing the sleep from their eyes. If they woke up over the past weekend however, and stuck their heads out to falling snow, perhaps they went back to bed. In any event, I’ve begun to curtail some of my seed distribution just for good measure, and urge neighbors to do the same                                                                                                                                                

As I mentioned our occasional warm sunny days, it seems buds on some of the Aspen and Birch are bulging with excitement, then on a day when we’ve held at or below freezing they don’t appear as puffy about the goings-on.                                                                                                                                           
 I did see some pussy willow buds along the Trail near the South Brule River Bridge last week. One might wonder if the gray pearls aren’t thankful the creator blessed them with warm fuzzy coats during our recent winter interlude.                                                                                                                    
I have yet to see any robins in this neighborhood, but folks in town mention they have arrived. On another avian note, recently I got a kick out of a quartet of visiting Crows, following the new snow. Talk about contrast, the scene was as stark black and white as nature could bring into being.                                                                                                                                                                     

A couple ebony beauties were rooting through the snow in search of sustenance remains. Plowing along the feed trough, they came up seemingly annoyed with globs of white stuck to their beaks. Apparently out of sorts with their white snoots, there was considerable shaking all about, and conversation from their brothers /sisters, perhaps teasing them.                                    

In closing, while the deciduous members of the northern forest are a ways from waving their green hellos, the coniferous family is rapidly turning their winter drab to brighter energizing summer shades. It’s more than noticeable on a day of sunshine.                                                   

And speaking of our forest sentinels, it’s pretty easy to take them for granted when there are uncounted zillions as far as the eye can see. I had the pleasure of reading an article in the spring periodical of the National Wildlife Federation on the critical things trees do for our eco-system. I have been aware of some, however, the author and researchers made several points I had never considered.  It is suggested reading, either online or in the library, and will provide evermore reverence to your future walks in the woods.                                                                                                                         

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, regardless of our worldly turmoil!


Wolf Pup via IWC.jpg

International Wolf Center Update - April 16, 2019

North Shore Morning Host, Brian Neil talks with International Wolf Center Executive Director, Rob Shultz for the IWC Update.


Spring Waterfall by Stephan Hoglund

North Woods Naturalist: Signs of spring

Despite recent snowfalls, spring is here.  WTIP's CJ Heithoff speaks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the signs of the changing season in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.


April Star Map - MN Starwatch

Northern Sky: April 13 - 26, 2019

April 13-26 2019
Well, what a difference a day makes. On Wednesday, April 10, a colossal astronomy story broke. Scientists working from radio telescopes all over the world released the first direct image of a black hole. Apologies if you’ve already heard all about this, but here goes.
Black holes are typically found at the centers of galaxies. They concentrate matter so densely, and generate such strong gravity, that nothing that gets too close can escape, including light. The boundary beyond which escape is impossible is called the Event Horizon, and that’s the name of the team that produced the image.
This black hole shows up as a dark round area inside a fuzzy, lopsided doughnut of light. It lies at the heart of a monster galaxy called Messier 87, which is one of the most massive galaxies in a cluster of galaxies in the constellation Virgo. The Virgo Cluster is in the general neighborhood of our Milky Way galaxy, and both the Milky Way and Messier 87 are powered by supermassive black holes.
But there’s no comparison. The mass of the Milky Way’s black hole is equal to 4 million suns, while Messier 87’s black hole has the mass of 6.5 billion suns; that’s 1,600 times more. The researchers calculated the diameter of the black hole to be 40 billion kilometers, or 25 billion miles. That makes it more than four times the diameter of Neptune’s orbit and nearly the size of our entire solar system. The Messier 87 galaxy is about 55 million light-years away. It’s visible through a small telescope, and May is a good month to observe it.
If you want to see where in the sky this galaxy is, and maybe point out its location to children or friends, you can use stars to navigate. Start by facing south after nightfall, at 9:30 or so. You’ll see the constellation Leo, the lion, fairly high in the south. Its brightest star,  Regulus, is the point in a backward question mark of stars that outline the lion’s head. Just east of the lion’s head is a triangle of stars marking the tail and hindquarters. The brightest and most eastern of these stars is Denebola. Okay, remember Denebola. Moving eastward again, you’ll see brilliant Arcturus, not quite as high as Denebola. Much lower, between Denebola and Arcturus, is Spica, the brightest star in Virgo.
Put another way, we have brilliant Arcturus well up in the east, Spica far to the lower right of Arcturus, and relatively dim Denebola to the upper right of both. These three stars form a nearly equilateral triangle. In fact, they are often called the Spring Triangle.
If you look from Arcturus about three quarters of the way to Denebola, and then down a little, that’s where M87 and its black hole, its heart of darkness, are. On April 17 the moon visits; if you point to a spot directly west of Arcturus and above the moon, you won’t be far off.
In the morning sky, Jupiter and Saturn, along with the star group known as the Teapot of Sagittarius, are slowly making their way westward, like a convoy. Jupiter is kind of low but brilliant, Saturn is the next bright object to the east, and the Teapot is between them. The moon visits Jupiter on the 23rd; on the 24th it sits right above the lid of the Teapot, and on the 25th it visits Saturn.
April’s full moon arrives on Friday, the 19th at 6:12 a.m. That’s shortly after sunrise and before moonset in Grand Marais. With clear views to east and west, you’ll see a rising sun and a very round, setting moon facing each other from opposite horizons.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 12, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith    April 12, 2019    

The sprint toward real “Zigwan” (Ojibwe, spring) in the north woods has been putting distance between itself and winter over the past seven days. In spite of another big snow forecast, one brief dash of snow and perhaps our last subzero morning has given way to April showers since last weekend.                                                                                                                            

This in mind, winter character has diminished somewhat around the territory, but muddy roads have intensified. While a few days of Gunflint sunshine have been warming, those with clouds have remained on the cool side of the ledger, hanging out in the mid-thirties, damp and raw.                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Gunflint-Loon Lake wolf pack has been hanging out along the south shore of Gunflint Lake recently, after being quietly obscure for some time. A few nights ago there was a genuine howling not far from Wildersmith. One can’t say whether the concert was in celebration of spring, a calling to feast or some other territorial alert. Then again, maybe they were announcing the birth of pack pups. Regardless, tracks along the Wildersmith shore confirm it was some kind of gathering.                                                                                                                      

Next door neighbors reported a recent sightseeing trip to Trails end turned out to be more exciting than expected. Their vehicle was brought to a surprising stop by a moose strolling along the black top.                                                                                                                                                              

The ensuing stoppage found the moose approach the vehicle for some investigation, actually getting up close and personal for a sniff of this metallic monster. One might wonder if this could have been the same moose reported to have licked road salt residue from a stopped vehicle a few weeks ago.                                                                                                                                              

Much as we humans are now able to shed a layer of winter garment, this viewing revealed the north woods icon was also in the early stages of shedding its winter coat, another sure sign the moose concur, spring is official.                                                                                                           

Adding to our melting delight at the Smith place, our serpentine of slipperiness has finally surrendered its ice. Although there is still ice and snow on the fringes, we can get up and down the driveway both on foot and in the vehicle without cleats and white knuckles.                                         
Another notable of the warming season is detected at the base of trees in the yard. As per usual, those hollow bowls in the snow are expanding by the day as warming bark and running sap exposes the surrounding earth in rustic brown.                                                                                   

One more sign of our border country times was discovered since our last meeting. The first Arachnid was caught scurrying across our kitchen the other day. Whereas everything in creation has an eco-purpose, these creepy crawlers can’t escape giving some the “willies.”                                                                                      

Though there is romance in dreams of warmer days and greening landscape ahead, the season at hand is perhaps the ugliest time of year. Months of crystal pureness has dwindled to unveil a zillion items having amassed on the forest floor over winter, making for some serious unsightliness.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
“Mother Nature’s” glory is rooted in verdant shades of summer, the mosaic of autumn tapestry and of course the marsh mellow cast of winter. In spring however, there’s just no covering up both the natural muss and humankind mistakes.                                                                                         

Then again, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. With the majesty of this great place in the universe budding with an enduring strategy of re-birth, yes, “hope, does spring eternal!”                                          

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as natural events energize whatever the season.