National parks protect some of the last remaining dark skies in the United States and embraces night skies as one of the many scenic vistas to preserve. Due to its remoteness and clean air, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best night sky observation sites.
For eight days every June, park visitors explore the wonders of the night sky on the South Rim with the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, and on the North Rim with the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, Arizona.
Things to Know about the Star Party
Attend this free, open to the general public, event. The park entrance fee, is good on both South and North rims for 7 days. No additional tickets or sign-up is required.
The event begins at sunset, although the best viewing is after 9 pm and many telescopes come down after 11 pm; however, on nights with clear, calm skies, some astronomers continue sharing their telescopes into the night.
Dress warmly. Temperatures drop quickly after sunset—even during summer months.
View an assortment of planets, double stars, star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies by night, and perhaps the Sun or Venus by day.
Skies will be starry and dark until the moon rises the first night. It rises progressively later throughout the week of the Star Party.
Bring a Red Flashlight
Make your way safely: use a red flashlight; white flashlights and cell phone lights are discouraged on the telescope lot. Make a red flashlight by:
Covering any flashlight with red cellophane, a limited supply of cellophane and rubber bands are available prior to the evening presentations at the Grand Canyon Visitor center)
Painting the flashlight lens with red nail polish or a red magic marker.
For more on why red flashlights are helpful, and how the human eye works after dark, click here.
South Rim Star Party
Events include an evening program nightly in the Visitor Center Theater at 8 pm, followed by telescope viewing behind Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
Theater capacity is limited. Arrive well before 8 pm to be sure of getting in, or come after dark and head straight to the telescope lot.
Park rangers offer constellation tours at 9, 9:30, and 10 pm. The slide show, constellation tours, and at least one telescope are wheelchair accessible.
The closest accessible parking is in lot 4. Lots 1 through 3 offer additional parking.
During the Star Party, the Village Route (blue) shuttle bus runs every half-hour until 11 pm sharp.
The South Rim Star Party is sponsored by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.
Amateur astronomers from across the country volunteer their expertise and offer free nightly astronomy programs and telescope viewing.
Star Party Evening Programs (South Rim)
South Rim Visitor Center. Doors open at 7:40 pm. Presentations start at 8 pm. (Limited-capacity seating) Program Schedule Coming soon
Night Sky Photography Workshops (South Rim)
Night Sky Photography Workshops meet at Grand Canyon Visitor Center at 9:30 pm, then take place out under the stars. Workshops are free and open to the public. Schedule Coming soon
Constellation Talks (South Rim)
Constellation talks happen every night 9, 9:30 and 10 pm Schedule Coming soon
North Rim Star Party
Telescopes are set up on the porch of the Grand Canyon Lodge every evening. An astronomy related evening program will be presented at 8 pm in the auditorium of Grand Canyon Lodge. Check park bulletin boards for the evening program schedule.
Constellation talks are also given, throughout the evening.
By day, solar telescopes are set up at the lodge, the Visitor Center and the general store (by campground.)
The North Rim Star Party is sponsored by the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, Arizona.
Become a Volunteer
All amateur astronomers interested in sharing the skies with visitors are invited to participate. Whether you can volunteer for a few days or the whole event, you can help to enrich the lives of people from all over the world.
Find volunteer opportunities for day and night telescopic outreach, visual and imaging, laser guided constellation tours, demonstration toolkits and auditorium presentations. Register through the astronomy clubs sponsoring the event, links provided.
CaLisa Lee takes us to the North rim of the Grand Canyon for their annual Star Party event. Hear from rangers and astronomers about how the night sky can connect us to other people and the past. Video by the Planetary Society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y2yJiSHPqM
Experience the mystery and wonder of Grand Canyon National Park's night sky with Astronomer Tyler Nordgren and Park Ranger Rader Lane. Explore the beauty of the night sky and learn what you can do to help preserve it.