Wheeler Peak Summit Trail Closed
A small smoldering fire near the trail has caused the closure of the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail. park staff is observing the fire. Check back here to get an update whne the trail will open. Alpine Lakes Loop and Bristlecone Trail are open. More »
Road Work at Great Basin National Park
Road work will begin in Upper Lehman and Wheeler Peak Campgrounds. Campgrounds will be open but may be noisy and have large vehicles on the roads. The Scenic Drive is open with up to 15 min delays due to road work. Click more for details. Updated 9/9/14 More »
Travel Not Recommended - Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Above 8,000 Feet
Snow and ice may make travel on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive unsafe, travel is not recommended at this time. Warmer weather later in the week is expected and conditions may improve. Please check back. 9/29/2014
Snake Creek Road and Campsites Closed
The Snake Creek Road will be closed from the park boundary into the park to begin work on campsites, trails and restroom improvements. Work will continue until snow closes the project. Work will resume in Spring 2015.
Great Basin Astronomy Festival
Great Basin National Park
Join park rangers and experience out of this world family fun, excitement, and learn about day and nighttime astronomy. Here at Great Basin National Park we have some of the best air quality in the nation which translates to clear daytime skies, and incredibly dark night skies.
Don't have your own telescope? There will be many telescopes of different makes, shapes, and sizes for you and your family to look at the sun, stars, planets and other deep sky objects including nebulae and galaxies.
Why come to the Astronomy Festival?
Plus many, many more fun activities!
Schedule of Events
Details are below
What is...? Events at the Festival
Evening Astronomy Fun
Telescope Observing each night at 7:30pm
Solar Telescope Observing
Ranger Talent Show
Each afternoon at 3:00pm join Dark Ranger Steve in front of the Lehman Caves Visitor Center for a demonstration on how to use a planisphere - those wheely objects that tell you what stars you're seeing in the night sky. Want your own planisphere? There available for just a few dollars at each visitor center's bookstore.
Astronomy 101 - these sessions will prepare you to what you'll be viewing tonight on the observing field. Friday and Saturday at noon.
Keynote Address - our keynote speaker, Vic Maris, will have his talk at 7:00pm on Friday.
Our Dark Night Sky - join Dark ranger Carolyn as she explores the impact of the night sky on cultures past, present, and future. Friday at 2:00pm.
The Grand Universal Tour - join astronomer and planetarium director Derek Demeter as he whisks you away on a journey through our universe. This is a 40 billion light year journey that you do not want to miss! Saturday at 2:00pm.
Dark Horizons: Saving the Night Sky by Derek Demeter - the night sky has fascinated mankind since antiquity. Many of our traditions stem from the amazing parade of stars and planets across the sky. With the advent of electricity, however, this once-captivating celestial light show has dimmed. But it is not just the night that is affected;it is also the environment that surrounds us. Saturday at 6:30pm.
Autumnal Equinox Sunrise
Night Sky Photography Workshop
Vic Maris - Keynote Speaker
Great Basin National Park is honored to have Vic Maris, owner of Stellarvue Telescopes, Park Ranger for the California State Parks, and longtime astronomy educator, for this year's keynote speaker. Vic's keynote address will be Friday September 19 at 7:00pm.
Vic began a lifelong pursuit of astronomy in the mid 1960's, after reading the Golden Book of Astronomy. "My father bought me a 60 mm refractor to encourage my interest in science, but that telescope almost ended my interest in astronomy." Vic fought the telescope for several nights, with its wobbly base and defective optics. After many attempts, the telescope was retired to his closet. "Far too many telescopes sit unused in closets because companies don't create them with the user in mind. If a telescope is not easy and enjoyable to use, it cannot do what it should; telescopes ought to foster a greater appreciation for the universe."
Vic, however, was lucky. Several people fostered his interest in astronomy from an early age. "The pursuit of astronomy has given me some inspirational experiences. I sincerely appreciate all of those people who helped me along my way." Vic was also lucky to live in Southern California where some of the best telescope makers could be found and they where willing to mentor him.
After being introduced to telescope making at the age of 14, Vic polished his first 6" mirror in the mid 1960's. Not being content with that he took on the challenge of making a 5" f-15 refractor at the age of 16. He was mentored by the best telescope makers in the late 1960's. After graduation, Vic pursued a career working in California State Parks as a ranger and later, a superintendent. He worked 30 years for parks often playing a significant role in protecting the environment and setting up star gazing opportunities in many parks. As Vic neared retirement he was teaching astronomy in Sacramento and his students encouraged him to make telescopes that actually worked. So Stellarvue started in Vic's garage back in 1998 and today we have produced more than 9,000 excellent telescopes.
Great Basin National Park Astronomy Festival Directions
in Baker, Nevada
Astronomer's camp: we have limited space where volunteers can camp on the astronomer observing field with your equipment. As an official astronomer volunteer we will waive any camping fees during the festival in our campgrounds but cannot reserve space.
More in-depth information or have a question? Please email us.
Did You Know?
Many of Great Basin National Park's bristlecone pines were growing at the time the Egyptians were building the pyramids. Not only are the trees themselves old, but the needles alone can be 25-40 yrs old!