Astronomy

 
Great Basin National Park Dark-Sky Logo
Great Basin National Park Dark-Sky Logo

NPS

One of the last true dark skies in America...

As of spring 2016, Great Basin has been designated an International Dark Sky Park! The International Dark Sky Association has recognized that Great Basin provides distinguished and significant opportunities to experience dark nights. We protect our pristine nighttime environment for scientific, recreational, and cultural values.

On a clear, moonless night in Great Basin National Park, thousands of stars, numerous planets, star clusters, meteors, man-made satellites, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Milky Way can be seen with the naked eye. The area boasts some of the darkest night skies left in the United States. Low humidity and minimal light pollution, combined with high elevation, create a unique window to the universe.

Can you make a difference with light pollution? Yes, look at the International Dark Sky Association website.

 

Astronomy Program Schedule

Astronomy program days and start times change throughout the year. Programs are typically offered April through October on Saturday nights, with additional Tuesday and Thursday night programs during the summer season, between Memorial day and Laborday.

2020 Astronomy Program start times will change through-out the season. Check the event calendar for program times.

During some holiday weekends astronomy programs will be given both Saturday and Sunday nights. Check at the park for dates and times.

The programs are free and no reservations are necessary. All astronomy programs will start with a ranger talk at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, followed by ranger-led telescope viewing. Please do not bring your own telescopes; we have them available.

Astronomy program rules:

  • Please do not use white lights (flashlights or cell phones) during the program. Red lights are allowed.
  • Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or bring any pets to the program.
  • Bring a camp chair for comfort.
  • Wear layers - nights get cold even in summer.

Great Basin National Park's Astronomical Forecast

 
Bristlecone with milkyway
Half the park is after dark

Dr. Tyler Nordgren

Other Astronomy Activities in the Park

Star Train
Great Basin National Park and the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, NV are teaming up to offer the NNRW's Star Train! Riders begin their journey at the train station in Ely and ride the historic northern train route through Ely. Great Basin's dark sky rangers will be onboard to talk trivia, give out prizes, and answer questions. The train will stop out of town where passengers can disembark and look through high-powered telescopes to see planets, deep space objects, and more (weather permitting). The train will then return to the train station later that evening. Tickets are required. Go to Nevada Northern Railway's website to learn more about the train and reserve your spot. The trains sell out quickly.

Please contact the Nevada Northern Railway at (775)-289-2085 for 2020 dates.

Full Moon Hike
On summer nights when the moon is too bright for our regular astronomy programs, join a dark ranger for a full moon hike! These highly popular hikes start just after sunset and traverse Great Basin under a moonlit sky. The program is free, but tickets are required. You can make reservations in person at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. All participants who wish to attend must be present in the visitor center to be issued a ticket. Participants must be at least 8 years of age or older due to the strenuous nature of the hike. Please talk to a Ranger for more information.

Solar Telescope Viewing
On select summer afternoons, join us on the back porch of the Lehman Caves Visitor Center for safe solar telescope viewing of our closest star, the Sun! Great Basin has state-of-the-art solar telescopes to view sunspots, prominences, filaments, and magnetic storms. Fun for all ages.

 

Astronomy Festival - September 17th - 19th, 2020

Great Basin National Park will be hosting its annual Astronomy Festival. Enjoy three days and nights of astronomy-themed events, including the famous ranger talent show and stargazing through over 20 different telescopes!

 
Pleiades
Pleiades

Photo by Tom Auchter

Want to explore the night sky on your own at Great Basin? Visit our stargazing page to learn where and when to go, what to bring, and what you might see.

 

Telescopes available at all astronomy programs have been generously funded by the Great Basin National Park Foundation.

Last updated: October 17, 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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