Astronomy Volunteer

Astronomy Festival 2016 Volunteer Dany Brian B. Roanhorse
Astronomy Volunteer Dani Schurhammer points to the night sky during the Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival.

Photographed by Brian B. Roanhorse 4 June, 2016.

 

CALL FOR ASTRONOMY PROGRAM VOLUNTEERS

Bryce Canyon National Park, 2016 season

Overview

Bryce Canyon, Utah, has one of the few remaining magnitude 7 dark skies in the country. The park has been a focus of stargazing for decades and is becoming well known to park visitors for its nighttime scenery. The program has steadily expanded and is now a robust and professional effort made possible by park rangers, astronomy clubs, and skilled volunteers. Close to 30,000 visitors attend an astronomy lecture, evening stargaze, solar viewing, or the astronomy festival each year. Additionally, the park actively manages and promotes dark skies through light pollution education.

The park is seeking qualified volunteers to commit to 1-3 months during the period August through October. If you would like to be a part of a fast paced, team-oriented public astronomy program and share the splendors of the night sky with the general public, consider sending your resume. The ideal applicant is gregarious, communicative, self-motivated, knowledgeable, approachable; and a good public speaker. Applicants should also be flexible, willing to learn new methods, and be able to adapt to an established public program that is somewhat unlike a traditional star party. Volunteers will be expected to support the NPS mission, night sky protection, and partnerships with astronomy clubs and the community while maintaining enthusiasm and refraining from espousing political or religious viewpoints. Job will require working with crowds and a diverse public in both independent and team modes. No stipend is provided but free housing or RV hookups are available.

Duties

Primary tasks include preparing for and giving evening stargazing events 3-4 times a week, solar viewing 3-4 times a week, and assisting with astronomy program logistics. Other tasks include staffing the information desk in the visitor center, roving the park and making informal visitor contacts, short presentations to the public, and miscellaneous duties to support the interpretation division and park activities. Presenting formal evening programs may be an option; please inquire. The typical work-week is 32 hours, though it may vary from 24 to 40 hours. Special programs at nearby parks and communities occasionally necessitate short travel in government vehicle. Volunteers will receive at least 2 days of training, a uniform, and the satisfaction of being part of a growing and high-energy stargazing program that makes emotional and intellectual connections with tens of thousands of visitors each year.

The park owns two 11” SCT, two 8” SCTs, a 3” refractor, and a H-alpha solar scope. Volunteers are welcome to bring their own equipment, and many do, but the park cannot be responsible for damaged personal equipment. Volunteers are expected to gain a good knowledge of telescope operation using a variety of optics and mounts, and basic telescope maintenance. The park does not have a permanent observing facility, so frequent set-up and take-down is required with some moderate lifting.

Park Setting

Bryce Canyon lies near Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks and is perched atop the spectacular canyon country in southern Utah. The park is best known for its peculiar orange hoodoo geologic features. Daytime temperatures range from 55-90°F while nights drop to 25-55°F. The park is at an average elevation of 8000’, so altitude sickness (shortness of breath, lethargy, fitful sleep), may be an issue for some persons. Bryce is remote, being 30 minutes to a town with limited services and 90 minutes from a small city (Cedar City). The park employs approximately 70 staff in the busy summer months.

Housing

Housing and RV sites with hookups may be available for astronomy volunteers at no cost. Housing is typically small cabins or apartments and may be shared with another staff person. Quarters are simple and spartan, so you will need to bring household items. Pets are not allowed in park housing. Land-line phone service is available for free; cell reception (Verizon, AT&T, AllTel, Sprint, etc.) is spotty and wireless internet is available for volunteers at the Visitor Center.


Selection Criteria

Selections will be made based on:

  • Knowledge of the sky, astronomical equipment, and techniques
  • Communication skills and experience working with the public
  • Availability and time commitment
  • References and other factors that indicate suitability for this particular program.

Resume

Selections will be made by review of resumes and phone interviews.

Resume should include:

  • List all positions held within the last 3 years
  • List of other applicable paid work and volunteer experience. For each listing, include a brief discussion of duties, period of work, hours per week, supervisor, and supervisor contact information
  • List and elaborate on astronomy/stargazing skills
  • List and elaborate on communication skills
  • Include 3 references
  • Include available time commitment

Send resume and questions to:

Cynthia Donaldson, Park Ranger
cynthia_donaldson@nps.gov

 
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Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O Box 640201
Bryce, UT 84764

Phone:

(435) 834-5322

Contact Us