Where To Go
Almost anywhere in the park will provide you with beautiful views of the night sky. Look for somewhere with an open horizon. When the Scenic Drive is open, Mather Overlook is an excellent spot. When the Astronomy Amphiteater is not in use for a program, it too is open for personal stargazing. For lower elevations, try the Baker Archaeological Site near the town of Baker.
Look for a clear, moonless night. A bright moon will obscure fainter objects, so check the moon phase before making plans. Watch the weather forecast and beware of any oncoming storms. Summer nights are the best times to view the Milky Way, but the winter brings its own unique sky though, so don't discount stargazing at any time of the year.
What to look for depends on the time of year you go. A star chart will help you identify what you are seeing. It will also show you the locations of the most prominent constellations in the northern hemisphere. Remember that stars twinkle and planets don't. If an object is moving quickly and not blinking, it is a satellite or possibly the International Space Station. Here is a helpful planet viewing guide, and information about satellite flyover times.
The Milky Way galaxy will appear as a cloudy, silvery streak across the sky. Our view is from the inside looking out. In summer, we are looking towards the center of our galaxy, so it will be denser and therefore a bit easier to see. Everything we can see with just our eyes from our location is within the Milky Way galaxy, with two exceptions: the Triangulum Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy.
If you see a "shooting star", this is a meteor, a small debris fragment burning up in Earth's atmosphere. The best opportunities to see these are during meteor showers. If you come to the park at the right times, you might catch the Perseids in August, the Orionids in October, the Leonids in November, and the Geminids in December. Check out which meteor shower you may be able to see.
Spot the Station at Great Basin!
Look for the International Space Station as it flies over Great Basin National Park. The ISS traverses the circumference of the earth roughly every 93 minutes making for regular opportunities to get a chance to spot when flying over our humble section of Nevada.
Last updated: December 28, 2022