Astronomy

 
Illustrated Milky Way over a bristlecone pine
"Half the park is after dark!"

Dr. Tyler Nordgren

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, five of our solar system's eight 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 change throughout the year:

No winter astronomy programs
April and May - Saturday nights
Memorial Day to Labor Day - Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights
September and October - Saturday nights

See our calendar for program start 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. No telescope is required as we will have them available.

Astronomy program rules:

  • Please do not use white lights (flashlights or cell phones) during the program
  • Do not smoke or bring any pets to the program
  • Bring a camp chair for comfort
  • Wear layers - nights get cold

Click for Great Basin National Park's Astronomical Forecast

 

Summer Holiday Weekends
During the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day astronomy programs will be given both Saturday and Sunday nights. See park displays for start times.

 

Other Astronomy Activities in the Park

Star Train
Great Basin National Park and the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, NV are once again 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. Great Basin's dark rangers will be onboard to talk trivia, give out prizes, and answer questions. The train will stop out of town, where passengers can disembark to look through the park's high-powered telescopes and see planets, deep space objects, and more! (Weather permitting.) The train will return to Ely that evening. Tickets are required. Go to Nevada Northern Railyway's website to learn more about the train and reserve your spot.

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.

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 21 - 23, 2017
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 30 different telescopes!

 
The constellation Scorpius
Scorpius constellation

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 has been generously funded by the Great Basin National Park Foundation.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Great Basin National Park
100 Great Basin National Park

Baker, NV 89311

Phone:

(775) 234-7331
Park Headquarters Superintendent

Contact Us