Great Basin Astronomy Festival

On This Page Navigation

 

Thank you for a wonderful 2022 Astronomy Festival! This page will remain until 2023's schedule and format is confirmed.


The Astronomy Festival will be on September 22nd - 24th, 2022

We are happy to welcome park visitors to Great Basin to view the night skies together. Everyone can enjoy the night sky in their own way. This year's festival events will include guest speakers, photo workshops, tours of the Great Basin Observatory (GBO), and other fun programs for families. The park is excited to welcome back amateur astronomer volunteers and their telescopes for an out-of-this-world star party each night of the festival.

 
An open telescope observatory with milky way in the background

Telescope Viewing

Each night the telescope viewing area will be open to the public from 8 pm to 11 pm. During this time amateur astronomers will have telescopes set up for the public to view the stars. Follow the red lights from the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to walk down to the viewing area. For accessibility needs contact a ranger at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center parking lot.

A free bus will run from the Great Basin Visitor Center (in the town of Baker) to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center (in the park) each night from 8 pm to 11 pm.

Interested in assisting with telescope viewing as a volunteer? Contact Jason Wurtz via e-mail at e-mail us. Volunteers MUST be pre-registered for the festival.
 
Milky Way over Rhodes Cabin and LCVC
Milky Way over Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

Tom Auchter

Festival Events and Programs

All park events and programs are weather dependent.

The Art in The Dark Program, Great Basin Observatory Tour, and the Photo Workshop require advance registration via e-mail, space is limited. Please see information below on how to register for these programs. Inquire at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center for day-of cancellations.

Other walk-up programs will be offered at or around the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. Check with the Front Desk for more information on walk-up programs.

Guest Speakers

This year we welcome Dr. Richard Plotkin from the Great Basin Observatory (GBO) and Dr. Gail Zasowski, an astronomer at the University of Utah, as guest speakers. Both guest speakers will begin their talks at 6:30 pm at the Astronomy Amphitheater on the given night. Parking is at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, about a quarter mile walk away. Talk to a ranger for accessibility needs.

Dr. Richard Plotkin is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Nevada, Reno and will be speaking on 9/23 about how the Great Basin Observatory (GBO), the only research-grade observatory on a national park, is used by students. Dr. Plotkin will be discussing the ongoing projects performed by undergraduate students at the GBO’s partner institutions, including studies of nebulae, young star forming regions, nearby galaxies, and variable stars over time. Through these projects and others, the GBO is bringing Great Basin National Park’s dark skies into classrooms across the region.

Our keynote speaker, Dr. Gail Zasowski, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah and Scientific Spokesperson for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V). She will be speaking on 9/24 about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a journey that includes two decades of exploration within the night sky. SDSS is one of the highest impact sky surveys in the world and has given humans a deeper understanding of stars, galaxies, and the overall history of the Universe.

Art in the Dark

The Art in the Dark Program requires advance registration, space is limited. Inquire at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center for day of cancellations. Reservations open at 8:00 am Pacific Time on August 22nd. E-mail us with the name of each person in the party, a phone number, and an e-mail address to reserve space for a program. Preference is given to the early time stamp on the e-mail after 8:00 am PT on August 22nd. After you sign up for a program you will receive instructions via e-mail, including location, time, and equipment needed. All park program participants must check in at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center the day of the program.

This program is limited to 50 people and will be held on 9/22 at 7:00 pm PT. Please walk to the program from the Lehman Caves Visitor Center parking lot. Join a Ranger and an Astronomy Volunteer in an art project that experiments with how our eyes see color. This accessible and kid-friendly program will challenge artist to create and paint in low light conditions, under the guidance of the Astronomy Volunteer.

All needed art supplies will be provided.

Recommended equipment

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

Constellation Talk

This program will be held on 9/22, 9/23 and 9/24 at 9:00 pm at the Astronomy Amphitheater. Please walk to the program from the Lehman Caves Visitor Center parking lot.

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 for when you head back home.

Recommended equipment

  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • Binoculars (not required)

Great Basin Observatory Tour

The Great Basin Observatory Tour requires advance registration, space is limited. Inquire at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center for day of cancellations. Reservations open at 8:00 am Pacific Time on August 22nd. E-mail us with the name of each person in the party, date and time of preferred program, a phone number, and an e-mail address to reserve space for a program. Preference is given to the early time stamp on the e-mail after 8:00 am PT on August 22nd. After you sign up for a program you will receive instructions via e-mail, including location, time, and equipment needed. All park program participants must check in at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center the day of the program.

This program is limited to 15 people and will be held on 9/22, 9/23, and 9/24 at 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm.

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

Photo Workshop

The Photo Workshop requires advance registration, space is limited. Inquire at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center for day of cancellations. Reservations open at 8:00 am Pacific Time on August 22nd. E-mail us with the name of each person in the party, date and time of preferred program, a phone number, and an e-mail address to reserve space for a program. Preference is given to the early time stamp on the e-mail after 8:00 am PT on August 22nd. After you sign up for a program you will receive instructions via e-mail, including location, time, and equipment needed. All park program participants must check in at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center the day of the program.

This program is limited to 15 people per night and will be held on 9/22, 9/23, and 9/24 at 6:30 pm.

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

 
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.

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

Last updated: October 9, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

100 Great Basin National Park
Baker , NV 89311

Phone:

775-234-7331
Available 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day

Contact Us

Stay Connected