Thing to Do

Badlands Astronomy Festival

Badlands National Park

three people stand silhouetted atop a badlands butte, pointing at the night sky.

Badlands National Park

2024 Astronomy Festival
Schedule of Events:

(This event is still being planned. Some events may be changed, added, or removed. Check back in later for potential updates)

Planet Walk

Friday, July 5th; Saturday, July 6th; and Sunday, July 7th
10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Starting at Ben Reifel Visitor Center
Learn how large our solar system is with a size-accurate scale model made by our Astronomy and Night Sky team. Meet in front of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to join us on a walk through the solar system.

Sun Fun Solar Observing

Friday, July 5th; Saturday, July 6th; and Sunday, July 7th
3:00-5:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center
View solar flares and sunspots through our special solar telescopes, 100% safe for eyes. Various other sun-based activities will also be offered.

Paper Rocket Launch

Friday, July 5th; Saturday, July 6th; and Sunday, July 7th
3:00-5:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center
Join staff from Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in building your own paper rocket. Learn the anatomy of a rocket and what is needed to propel it into the cosmos (or our front yard). How can you make your rocket launch farther than the others?

Guest Speakers/Evening Programs/Public Stargazing

Friday, July 5th; Saturday, July 6th; and Sunday, July 7th
9pm - 11:30 pm (Fri, Sat, Sun) at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater
Nightly evening presentations will be provided by invited guest speakers followed by hands-on experience with multiple state-of-the-art telescopes and amateur astronomers providing constellation tours while guiding visitors around the universe. View planets, star clusters, nebulae, and double stars while going down the “scope line.”

Speaker Schedule:
Friday, July 5th at 9:00pm

The Webb Space Telescope, Peering into the Early Universe
Eve Woodridge –
NASA Aerospace Engineer, Emerita; Aerospace Contamination Control for James Webb Space Telescope
Synopsis: Eve Wooldridge started working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1984, cutting her teeth as a contamination control engineer on the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). Since then, Eve has worked many projects, including one from the history books: the TOMS instrument which launched in 1991 on the Soviet Meteor-3 spacecraft as part of the Reagan-Gorbachev agreement for the United States and the Soviet Union to work together on space programs for peaceful purposes.

Since then, most of Eve’s career has been her 26 years as the Contamination Engineering Lead on the James Webb Space Telescope. In this role, Eve has had the joy and privilege of leading a highly skilled team of engineers, scientists, and technicians. Working with this team on JWST has been the highlight of her career, and today she is very happy to talk about some of the things they did together to launch the telescope clean and ready for the spectacular science we have seen in the last 2 years.


Saturday, July 6th at 9:00pm

How We Study the Geology of Mars
Cate Larsen – Geologist and Science communicator, New York
Synopsis: Mars is over 110 MILLION miles away, so how do scientists study it and learn so much about it? Come learn about things like rovers, orbiters, and places here on Earth that help us understand Mars’ geology and piece together its history. This is an interactive presentation meant to teach observation and interpretation skills, so bring your good eyes and thinking cap!


Sunday, July 7th at 9:00pm

Just 42!
Kevin Poe – Dark Ranger Telescope Tours, Bryce Canyon, UT
Synopsis: Astronomy math is VERY hard, but the science itself is pretty simple when compared to biology, geology, etc. So much so, that once you exclude Earth, there's only 42 things left to learn about before you can understand the whole Universe. Join Kevin "The Dark Ranger" Poe to get a semester's worth of astronomy from this single show.

2023 Asronomy Festival
Schedule of Events:

Planet Walk

Friday, July 14; Saturday, July 15; and Sunday, July 16
10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Learn how large our solar system is with a size-accurate scale model made by our Astronomy and Night Sky team. Meet in front of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to join us on a walk through the solar system.

Sun Fun Solar Observing

Friday, July 14; Saturday, July 15; and Sunday, July 16
3:00-5:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center
View solar flares and sunspots through our special solar telescopes, 100% safe for eyes. Various other sun-based activities will also be offered.

Paper Rocket Launch

Friday, July 14; Saturday, July 15; and Sunday, July 16
3:00-5:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center
Join staff from Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in building your own paper rocket. Learn the anatomy of a rocket and what is needed to propel it into the cosmos (or our front yard). How can you make your rocket launch farther than the others?

Guest Speakers/Evening Programs/Public Stargazing

Friday, July 14; Saturday, July 15; and Sunday, July 16
9pm - 11:30 pm (Fri, Sat, Sun) at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater
Nightly evening presentations will be provided by invited guest speakers followed by hands-on experience with multiple state-of-the-art telescopes and amateur astronomers providing constellation tours while guiding visitors around the universe. View planets, star clusters, nebulae, and double stars while going down the “scope line.”

Speaker Schedule:
Friday, July 14th at 9:00pm

Where We Live
Brad Riza – Former Astronomy and Night Sky Ranger at Badlands National Park, Fort Worth, Texas.
Synopsis: Do you ever wonder about your “place” in the Cosmos? People come to Badlands NP to see the night sky and its wonders. Many come to see planets, the Milky Way, or another galaxy for the first time and leave thinking about the vastness of our universe. Come to “Where We Live” and see “something of the glory our world sails in”!


Saturday, July 15th at 9:00pm

How We Study the Geology of Mars
Cate Larsen – Geologist and Science communicator, New York
Synopsis: Mars is over 110 MILLION miles away, so how do scientists study it and learn so much about it? Come learn about things like rovers, orbiters, and places here on Earth that help us understand Mars’ geology and piece together its history. This is an interactive presentation meant to teach observation and interpretation skills, so bring your good eyes and thinking cap!


Sunday, July 16th at 9:00pm

Just 42!
Kevin Poe – Dark Ranger Telescope Tours, Bryce Canyon, UT
Synopsis: Astronomy math is VERY hard, but the science itself is pretty simple when compared to biology, geology, etc. So much so, that once you exclude Earth, there's only 42 things left to learn about before you can understand the whole Universe. Join Kevin "The Dark Ranger" Poe to get a semester's worth of astronomy from this single show.

Last updated: May 18, 2024