THING TO DO

Badlands Astronomy Festival

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

The Annual Badlands Astronomy Festival brings together space science professionals, amateur astronomers, educators, youth groups, and park visitors for a stellar experience. Celebrate the beauty of a dark night sky and the wonder of space exploration. 

Novices and experts alike will enjoy daily family-friendly activities and evening presentations with special guest speakers. In the past, activities have included planetarium visits, solar telescope viewings, technology demonstrations, and more. Nightly telescope viewings will be sponsored by the NPS Night Sky Program and Celestron.

This three-day celebration at Badlands National Park will support the continued protection and enjoyment of our incredible night skies as a precious natural resource. Although light pollution threatens dark skies across the globe, the Badlands are nestled in a corner of the Great Plains where light pollution is not a prevalent issue. Come celebrate the dark skies of the park with us!

The festival schedule and activities vary year-to-year. Stop by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to pick up this year’s schedule when you visit or check out the schedule below. Most events and activities are located in wheelchair-accessible areas. Astronomy Festival events do not require advance registration or tickets. 

 Badlands National Park has partnered with the NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium to co-sponsor the 2021 Badlands Astronomy Festival, July 9th-11th.
The festival brings together space science professionals, amateur astronomers, educators, and visitors for a three-day celebration.
Novices and experts alike will enjoy the spectacular dark night skies of Badlands National Park at public star parties each evening. During the afternoon each day, a variety of family-friendly activities will provide opportunities for visitors to learn about the night sky, the sun, and space exploration. Telescopes will be provided by astronomers from the Black Hills Astronomical Society, Badlands National Park, Dark Ranger Telescope Tours and the University of Utah for day and night observations. 
The schedule of events includes astrophotography workshops, solar observing opportunities, special guest speakers, public stargazing activities, static displays, as well as equipment demonstrations by professional and amateur astronomers. 

This free event is made possible through funding and support from the Badlands Natural History Association, NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, Dark Ranger Telescope Tours, Black Hills Astronomical Society, International Dark Sky Association, University of Utah, Badlands National Park Conservancy, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, and Badlands National Park.
Schedule of Events:
Astrophotography WorkshopAstrophotography 101 – Or How to Shoot the Night Skies”Friday, July 9; Saturday, July 10; and Sunday, July 11 1:30-3:00 pm in the Ben Reifel Visitor Center TheaterThis workshop will provide opportunities to explore various types of equipment and techniques to shoot great night-sky photos.
Sun Fun Solar Observing Friday, July 9; Saturday, July 10; and Sunday, July 11 3:00-5:00 pm at the Ben Reifel Visitor CenterView solar flares and sunspots through our special solar telescopes, 100% safe for eyes. Various other sun-based activities will also be offered.
Guest Speakers/Evening Programs/Public StargazingFriday, July 9; Saturday, July 10; and Sunday, July 11 9pm - 11:30 pm (Fri, Sat, Sun) at the Cedar Pass Campground AmphitheaterNightly 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.”
Friday night guest speaker: Diane Knutson, International Dark Sky Association 9:00 p.m.
Saturday night guest speaker: Tom Durkin, NASA SD Space Grant Consortium 9:00 p.m.
Sunday night guest speaker: “Dark Ranger” Kevin Poe, Dark Ranger Telescope Tours
 

Details
Pets are permitted in Badlands National Park with some restrictions. Pets must be kept on a leash no more than six feet in length at all times. Pets are only permitted in developed areas, such as campgrounds and picnic areas, and other areas open to motor vehicles, such as gravel and paved roadways, roadway corridors, and parking lots. Pets are prohibited from hiking trails, public buildings (i.e. visitor centers), and backcountry areas, including the Badlands Wilderness Area, and areas with prairie dog colonies. Pet etiquette dictates always cleaning up animal waste and disposing of it in trash receptacles.
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Accessibility Information

The event takes place in an ADA amphitheater. Certified service animals are welcome.

Last updated: July 2, 2021