• Badlands formations against the blue sky; photo by Rikk Flohr


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    Park roads and parking lots are under construction. Expect occasional 10 - 15 minute road construction delays along Hwy 240 Loop Road. There is limited parking at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Please follow the signs to park in designate areas.

Badlands Astronomy Festival to Be Held August 2 - 4

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Date: July 30, 2013
Contact: Julie Johndreau, 605-433-5242

Badlands has partnered with the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium to host South Dakota Space Days 2013 during the Badlands Astronomy Festival, August 2 - 4. The festival brings together space science professionals, amateur astronomers, educators, and visitors for a three day celebration.

Novices and experts alike will enjoy the spectacular dark night skies of Badlands National Park at public star parties each evening.During the day, a variety of family-friendly workshops and special events will provide opportunities for visitors to learn about the night sky, the sun, and space exploration.The Badlands Natural History Association (BNHA) will offer night sky-themed merchandise for sale in the bookstore at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.

This event is made possible through funding and support from Badlands Natural History Association (BNHA), Sioux Empire Astronomy, South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, the Journey Museum, SD Discovery Center, the Interior Volunteer Fire Department, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, NPS Night Skies Program, Bryce Canyon National Park, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and Badlands National Park.

Schedule of Events:

Public Stargazing

Friday, August 2; Saturday, August 3; and Sunday, August 4

8:30 - 11:30 pm at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater

Keynote presentations by invited guest speakers.Hands-on experience with multiple state-of-the-art telescopes and amateur astronomers providing constellation tours and guiding visitors around the universe. View planets, star clusters, nebulae, and double stars while going down the "scope line."

Friday night keynote speaker: Herman Bender, Archeoastronomy Writer/Editor

Saturday night keynote speaker: Chad Moore, NPS Night Skies Program Leader

Sunday night keynote speaker: "Dark Ranger" Kevin Poe, NPS Interpreter

Sun Fun Solar Observing

Friday, August 2; Saturday, August 3; and Sunday, August 4

2:00-4:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center

View solar flares and sunspots through our special solar telescope, 100% safe for eyes. Various other solar based activities will also be offered during this particular event.

Build Your Own Sundial Workshop

Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3

1:00-2:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center

Model Rocket Building & Launching Workshop

Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4

10:00 am - 12:00 noon in Interior, SD

Rocket-building kits will be available for sale.

Planetarium Shows

Throughout the day on Friday, August 2; Saturday, August 3; and Sunday, August 4

at the Interior School gymnasium, 2 miles south of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center

The Journey Museum from Rapid City and the SD Discovery Center from Pierre will present planetarium shows using their portable planetariums.

Meet a Missileer

Friday, August 2; Saturday, August 3; and Sunday, August 4

at the Interior School gymnasium, 2 miles south of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site rangers will host talks and rocket exhibits throughout the festival. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet former missile field personnel who can describe how rockets work and tell personal stories about being a missileer in the United States Air Force.

Did You Know?

The rich hue of the Yellow Mounds paleosols

The yellow and red layers in the badlands formations are fossilized soils, called paleosols. Fossil root traces, burrows, and animal bones found within the soils provide scientists with evidence of environmental and climatic changes that occurred in the badlands over time.