Great Basin Astronomy Festival

The Astronomy Festival will be on September 17th - 19th, 2020

The 2020 Great Basin Astronomy Festival will be different than in years past. In an effort to keep everyone safe many guest speakers and programs will be virtual. Other programs at the park will be by reservation only and follow state directives and social distancing best practices.
Milky way over a red lit Lehman Caves Visitor Center and mountain ridge

Stargazing at Great Basin

Stargaze on your own during the Festival. Check out this helpful page on stargazing in the park.

Ranger giving night program

YouTube Channel for Virtual Programs

Join us on our YouTube channel for virtual astronomy festival content premiering 9/17 through 9/19.

Bristlecone at night

Thank You to Our Partners

The Great Basin National Park Foundation helps fund educational programs and out-reach events like the Annual Astronomy Festival

nebulae with red and blue light with stars around
M20, M8, and NGC 6559

Tom Auchter

Virtual Programs and Guest Speakers.

Each day of the festival virtual programs and guest speaker programs will be released on our YouTube channel.

Virtual Programs
At the start of our festival join Ranger Charlie to learn about how you can stargaze on your own at Great Basin National Park and at your home.

On the last night of the festival we will premiere a "Ask the Experts: Space Telescopes" program where we will ask questions that were gathered from our social media and from the local community, to experts from the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Guest Speakers
This year we welcome Dr. John Barentine Director of Public Policy at the International Dark-Sky Association and Alex Lockwood and Brandon Lawton from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. John Barentine will be speaking on the importance of dark skies to us all and why Great Basin National Park is such a special place to look to the heavens.

Alex Lockwood and Brandon Lawton from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland will be speaking about the two new space telescopes soon to be launched, the James Webb Space Telescope and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.

Milky Way over Rhodes Cabin and LCVC
Milky Way over Lehman caves Visitor Center.

Tom Auchter

In-Park Programs

All In-Park Programs for the Great Basin Astronomy Festival require advance registration, space is limited. Inquire at Great Basin Visitor Center for day of cancellations.
E-mail us with the name of each person in the party, date and name of preferred program, a phone number, and an e-mail address to reserve a space on a program. Reservations open at 8:00 am pacific time on September 1st. After you sign up for a program you will receive instructions via e-mail, including location, time, and equipment needed. All in park program participants must check in at the Great Basin Visitor Center the day of the program.

All In-Park Programs are weather dependent.

Photo Workshop
This program is limited to 10 people per night and will be held on 9/17(full) and 9/18 (full) at 7:00pm.

Join a ranger and a photography volunteer to learn the basics of night photography. This workshop is intended for beginner photographers looking to start exploring how to take nighttime pictures. Learn the advantages of various camera formats, exposure times, composition, and much more to enhance your ability to take beautiful night sky images.

Equipment needed

  • Camera (DSLR is preferred)

  • Wide angle lense (stock lenses are ok lower f stop is preferred)

  • Tripod

  • Remote shutter control (recommended)

  • Red light headlamp

Art in the Dark
This program is limited to 20 people and will be held on 9/17(full) at 7:30pm

Join a Ranger and our Artist in Residence in an art project that experiments with how our eyes see color. This accessible and kid friendly program will challenge artist to create and draw in low light conditions, under the guidance of the Artist in Residence.

All needed art supplies will be provided.

Recommended equipment

  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • Red headlamp (not required)

Star Hike
This program is limited to 15 people and will be held on 9/17(full), 9/18(full), and 9/19(full) at 7:00pm

Join a ranger and volunteer on a 2 mile round trip night hike at 10,000 feet. During this hike visitors will enjoy the nighttime environment of Great Basin National Park, in the middle of the hike rangers will lead a constellation talk pointing out some of the amazing sights in Great Basin's dark sky. This program requires the ability to hike on uneven surfaces at night for about 2 miles. The hike will gain about 200 feet during the program. Please assess your hiking fitness before signing up for this program. Hikes are limited to one hike per person.

Equipment needed

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Headlamp ( White light or Red light)
  • Warm clothing
  • Hiking poles (not required)
  • Pad or blanket to lay down on (not required)
  • Binoculars (not required)
  • Any personal emergency medications

Constellation Talk
This program is limited to 25 people and will be held on 9/18(full), and 9/19(full) at 8:00pm.

Join a ranger and volunteers for a night under the stars. This accessible program will guide visitors through the constellations, stars, and possibly galaxies visible to the unaided eye in the Great Basin night-skies. Learn how to stargaze on your own back home.

Recommended equipment

  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • Binoculars (not required)

Great Basin Observatory Tour
This program is limited to 10 people and will be held on 9/17(full), 9/18 (full), and 9/19 (full) at 3:00pm

Join a ranger to see the Great Basin Observatory the only research grade observatory on a National Park. Home to a 27 inch telescope, this observatory is used for research and education purposes. This program requires a 1 mile round trip hike on a gravel trail and paved road and standing for an hour.

Recommended equipment

  • Good walking shoes
  • Sun protection
  • Hat
An open telescope observatory with milky way in the background

Telescope Viewing

Due to health and safety concerns, this year there will be no telescope viewing hosted by the park. We hope to host amateur astronomer volunteers and their telescopes next year at the 2021 Festival, like in years past.

Last updated: September 10, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Great Basin National Park
100 Great Basin National Park

Baker, NV 89311


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

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