About the ProgramThe Astronomer-in-Residence (ASTiR) Program at Grand Canyon National Park offers astronomers, both amateur and professional; educators, scientists, visual and performing artists, and writers, the opportunity to practice and share their discipline under one of the most pristine night skies in the United States. Through artwork and educational outreach, the ASTiR inspires visitors to see the values of dark night skies, spreads awareness about the threats of light pollution, and explores society’s complex relationships with natural darkness.
The program is similar to the Artist-in-Residence program hosted by various national parks. The park hosts the chosen applicant on-site for a short-term residency, usually between 3-6 weeks. The difference is that the primary focus is on night skies, astronomy, and the various disciplines studying natural darkness. Not only are artists encouraged to apply, ASTiR also invites educators, advocates, scientists, and other outreach disciplines to share their expert knowledge, inspiration, and equipment with park visitors.
Here are some very basic examples of possible residencies:
1. You are an amateur astronomer with impressive telescopes and vast experience with outreach. You would like to provide your expertise to park visitors for four weeks through nightly public talks and informal telescope-viewing on the rim of the canyon.
2. You are an astrophotographer. You would like to provide the park professional-quality timelapses and fine art night-photography to be used on our social media sites. You provide at least two public workshops on night sky photography during your stay.
3. You are an outreach astronomer. You’d like to spend your residency providing constellation talks to the public. You also produce a daily series of short videos on how to live a night-sky-friendly lifestyle to be used on the park’s social media sites.
4. You are a visual artist who wants to install a conceptual-art piece about night skies and light pollution at the visitor center. You provide a few public workshops on your craft.
5. You are a composer who wants to write a series of nocturnes inspired by Grand Canyon night skies. You present a public performance of some famous nocturnes during your residency.
6. You are a writer or a scientist. You’d like to write a piece about the effects of living in a dark environment on our sleep and well-being. You present at least two public presentations in the park. You publish the piece in Grand Canyon Conservancy’s magazine, Canyon Views.
The possibilities are endless! We are open to all sorts of creative proposals. The goal is for the applicant to be inspired by the night skies at the Grand Canyon and to share that inspiration with park visitors as well as with their own followers.
Night Skies and Astronomy at Grand Canyon National ParkGrand Canyon National Park is located high on the Colorado Plateau, far from the lights of large cities, in the dry desert southwest. Combined with the clean air and clear skies, Grand Canyon National Park protects some of the most pristine night skies in the United States.
In 2019, Grand Canyon National Park was certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. Later that year, the park received the award for International Dark Sky Place of the Year. These distinctions were the culmination of a long history of night sky appreciation at Grand Canyon National Park.
Our process to retrofit thousands of light fixtures in the park in order to achieve International Dark Sky Park status was unprecedented in scale. Combined with our six million visitors per year, the park has become one of the largest, most complex, International Dark Sky Parks in the world. We have a mission to preserve the night skies for the enjoyment of this and future generations. Through support of the park’s non-profit partner, Grand Canyon Conservancy, we continue these efforts through the Astronomer-in-Residence Program.
Donations of Artwork and Outreach ExpectationsThe chosen applicant is asked to donate night-sky-inspired content, whether physical, digital, or educational, to the park and the park’s non-profit partner, Grand Canyon Conservancy. The proposed quantity of donated content will depend on the medium, and will be partly-offered by the resident in the application process, partly-negotiated with park staff based on the needs of the park. The specifics of copyright, donation process, and other legalities are outlined in the contract.
A minimum number of public presentations and outreach efforts will be determined based on the discipline of the chosen applicant. If the applicant is an artist, then at least one public presentation will be required. If the applicant is a public educator, then proposals for virtual outreach or staff training will be negotiated.
Past ResidenciesDr. Tyler Nordgren - June 25–July 16, 2021
AccomodationsThe chosen applicant will stay in the historic Verkamps Residence, overlooking the rim of the Grand Canyon. Bedware, kitchenware, and furnishings are supplied. An honorarium is provided, as well as food and travel stipends.
Selection ProcessA panel of park rangers, Conservancy employees, and night sky advocates will choose the resident based on artistic or educational merit, their Statement of Purpose, and the need for a well-balanced diversity of residencies. A contract must be signed in order to begin the residency.
How to ApplyThe application for the 2022 residencies has closed. Click here for future opening dates.
Last updated: November 13, 2021