Up close image of blue, white and turquoise crystal

❤️ Heart & Solstice ☀️

Welcome the new season and celebrate the returning light at the Bell

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of sunlight in our hemisphere—after December 21, the days begin to get longer again!

Check out one (or more!) exciting activities happening at the Bell Museum December 15–January 2 (closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day). We’ve planned a variety of programs and activities this season and invite you to visit the museum several times to enjoy them all! Create your own sundial, search for winter constellations, take a winter walk through the museum, and more. We invite you to learn and play with us!

Bell Museum Holiday Hours – We are excited to celebrate the Winter Solstice with you! Enjoy extended museum hours Monday-Friday from December 27-31. Stay up to date on holiday hours as you plan your visit to the Bell Museum this holiday season.

In-Person Activities

  • The Christmas Bird Count
    December 18

    The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was founded in 1900 as a way to promote conservation by counting, rather than hunting, birds on Christmas Day. The CBC uses a specific method to count birds. Each count takes place on a single day between December 14 to January 5 in an established 15-mile diameter circle.

    The Bell Museum is located in the Saint Paul (North) Count circle. Volunteers will be out counting birds on designated routes in our circle on Saturday, December 18. We will support the CBC by reporting the birds we observe at our feeders on count day.

    Visit the Touch and See Lab all day to connect with volunteers and Master Naturalists who will be identifying and counting the birds that visit our feeders.

  • Solar Observing
    December 22

    The winter solstice is a time to celebrate the Sun’s “rebirth,” when days stop getting shorter, and the Sun starts to climb higher in the sky once again. Join us December 22, 12–2pm* as we celebrate the winter solstice and observe the Sun through our telescopes on the Learning Landscape outside the museum. Make sure to dress for the weather and bundle up as it is officially the first day of winter.

    Safety note: Never look directly at the Sun without proper solar filters. The Bell Museum telescopes utilize safe solar observing equipment.

    *This event is dependent on clear weather. In the case of clouds, the event will be canceled.

  • Winter Solstice Intentions
    December 15–January 2

    As plants and animals take advantage of colder days and longer nights to rest, we invite you to take this time to reflect on our connection to nature and to set intentions about the ways we connect. Stop by the Bell Museum during the Heart & Solstice celebration to write down your intentions and turn them into stars! You can add your star to the growing collection or take it home to cultivate your intentions in the new year.

  • Winter Walk
    December 15–January 2

    Join the Winter Walk during your visit! Journey through the landscape of Minnesota without leaving the building! Grab a curated guide and get ready to spot some seasonal sights—everything from glaciers, to birds, to the Northern Lights. Be sure to look out for the snowflakes on the museum floor, they’ll help guide the way!

  • Create a Sundial
    December 15–January 2

    The sundial is the oldest known instrument for telling time. Stop by and check out the large sundial in the center of the Bell Museum parking lot! Take your time as you identify the parts and use the cast shadows to read the time. Then continue the fun by creating your very own sundial! Grab a sundial sheet on-site or download our simple sundial template to track the position of the sun and keep time.

  • Demos & Activities at the Museum
    December 15–January 2

    Join us for in-museum demos and activities. Head over to the Touch & See Lab to check out up close views of crystals and get a closer look at a selection of weasel skins.

Virtual Activities

  • VIDEO: Virtual Star Party – Exploring the Geminids, Meteors, and Meteorites

    Relive the Bell Museum Virtual Star Party! Watch as the planetarium team explore meteors, meteorites and the Geminids meteor shower. Learn the best time to look for meteorites and how to determine if you have found a rock from space! The planetarium team will also share views of the night sky through the telescopes from the Bell’s observation deck.

  • VIDEO: Solstice Storytime

    Join Education Programs Manager Sarah Riemer for a special winter solstice storytime, Moonbear’s Shadow. In this video, you’ll also learn more about how the winter solstice works.

  • VIDEO: Sketching

    Get your pencil and paper ready for an exciting Heart and Solstice sketch session with the Bell Museum’s Touch & See Lab Coordinator Jennifer Menken! Learn the basic steps for drawing your very own owl.

Winter constellations

Check out videos from our Constellation Hunter series below and learn how to spot the many constellations in our night sky this winter!

Bell winter Zoom backgrounds