Great Basin Astronomy Festival

The Veil Nebula
This image of the Veil Nebula was taken at the 2012 Astronomy Festival.

Jeffrey Kaufman

The Astronomy Festival will be
September 26 - 28, 2019

Join park rangers and amateur astronomers to experience out-of-this-world family fun and excitement at our annual Astronomy Festival! Learn about daytime and nighttime astronomy while enjoying some of the darkest night skies in the nation.

Don't have your own telescope? There will be many telescopes of different makes, shapes, and sizes for you and your family to use to look at the sun, stars, planets and other deep sky objects including nebulae and galaxies. With activities for kids of all ages, the whole family can enjoy this festival together.

Due to limited parking, there will be a free shuttle bus service from the Great Basin Visitor Center to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. The shuttle bus service is free and will last from 7:30pm to 11:30pm.
 
Great Basin Observatory Open
Great Basin Observatory Open

Great Basin Observatory

Events

Visit the Information Desk for a detailed schedule.

Daytime Solar Solar Telescope Observing

On September 26th and 27th between 11:00am and 3:00pm, our special solar telescopes will be set up on the back porch of the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, to view our closest star, looking for sunspots and prominences.

On September 28th the solar telescopes will be set up at the Baker School playground between11:00am and 3:00pm, during the community rocket day.

Ranger Programs

Ranger programs will be offered throughout the festival. Some programs like the Early Morning Hike and the Great Basin Observatory guided walk require signing up in advance at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

Programs times and locations are as follows:
  • 2:00pm Sep 26th - A Universe of Light - Lehman Caves Visitor Center
  • 3:00pm Sep 26th - Life as an Amateur Astronomer- Lehman Caves Visitor Center
  • 2:00pm Sep 27th - Snakes and Their Lives After Dark- Lehman Caves Visitor Center
  • 3:00pm Sep 27th - Guided walk to the Great Basin Observatory (Sign up in advance at Lehman Caves Visitor Center)
  • 7:00 am Sep 28th - Early Morning Hike to Stella Lake (Sign up in advance at Lehman Caves Visitor Center)
  • 3:00pm Sep 28th - Guided walk to the Great Basin Observatory (Sign up in advance at Lehman Caves Visitor Center)
  • 8:30pm Sep 26th, 27th and 28th - Constellation Tour - Picnic Area at Lehman Caves Visitor Center
 
park staff performing at the talent show
Come see our park staff show off their astronomy-related talents!

NPS Photo

Park Ranger Talent Show

One of our most popular events kicks the festival off, the night of September 26th at 6:30pm. The rangers of Great Basin National Park will show off their talents by performing astronomy-themed acts, from singing to skits.

Guest Speakers

Each evening of the festival, a guest speaker will be presenting at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

On September 27th at 6:00pm we welcome Tom Beckett as our keynote speaker. In April, Tom attempted to raft the Green River through Desolation Canyon alone at night. One of his goals was to enjoy an epic, eight-night star party. He also hoped to demonstrate that human night vision is quite good, which is an important part of his own argument against light pollution.

The night of September 28th at 6:30pm, Dr. John Kenney will take the audience on an exciting virtual tour of the Great Basin Observatory (GBO), with breathtaking astronomical images captured by the GBO.

Telescope Observing

Between 7:30pm and 11:30pm telescopes will be set up at our observing field, an easy five minute walk from the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. Dedicated volunteer astronomers will have many different telescopes available for public viewing, and our Great Basin Dark Rangers will be there to give you a tour of the night sky.

For Telescope Observing parking is limited at the Leman Caves Visitor Center. A Free Shutle Bus will run from the Great Basin Visitor Center to the Lehman Caves Vistor Center from 7:30pm to 11:30pm on Friday and Saturday.

Night Sky Photography Workshop

*As of 7/30/2019, these workshops are FULL. Please check Lehman Caves Visitor Center the day of the workshop for possible last minute openings.
Reservations are required for this free program that is limited to 20 people per session. Volunteers and Dark Rangers will host (2) night sky photography workshop sessions. Learn the advantages of various camera formats, how to shoot closeups through binoculars, exposure times for the upcoming January lunar eclipse, composition, and much more to enhance your ability to take beautiful night sky images. Registration for the workshop will open on Monday July 1, 2019.

 
Ranger at solar bracelet-making station
You can make a bracelet using special beads that change color in the sun!

NPS Photo

Kids' Programs and Deep Space Certificate

Throughout the festival, we’ll have childrens' programs both day and night.

On September 27th and 28th, during a visit to the solar telescope, supplies will be available to make special bracelets and other crafts that changes color from the sun's UV rays.

From 7:30pm to 8:30pm kids can also earn their Deep Space Certificate at the telescope viewing area. Attend a night-time stargazing event and learn about deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulas to earn the certificate (and a Milky Way candy bar!).

Community Rocket Building

In partnership with the local community on September 28th at the Baker School playground, Great Basin National Park is hosting a community rocket building and launch day.

This family event starts at 11:00am and goes to 3:00pm. There will be solar telescopes to observe the sun and fun kids' crafts.
Rocketry supplies are limited.

 
Volenteer sets up solar scopes
Astronomy volunteers play an important role in the festival, bringing telescopes to share with the public and helping with programs.

Tom Auchter

Volunteers Needed!

Are you an amateur or professional astronomer? Do you enjoy sharing your passion for astronomy with the public? We need your help! Give a presentation or just set up your gear for others to look through. Individuals and astronomy clubs are welcome. Detailed volunteer information can be found on our Astronomy Festival Volunteer page.

Questions? Please email us.

Last updated: September 10, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Great Basin National Park
100 Great Basin National Park

Baker, NV 89311

Phone:

(775) 234-7331
Available 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Closed on Federal holidays.

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