Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival

Visitors enjoy a star talk led by a ranger.
Stargazing is one of the many activities offered by the park during the festival.

September 15-17, 2017

Join astronomers, rangers, and historians as they come together for a three-day festival celebrating North Dakota's starry nights and rich heritage! Stand under the expansive night sky that influenced cultures of American Indian tribes, inspired modern space exploration, and is still yours to experience today!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Historic Medora welcome you to evenings of star viewing,special presentations, rocket building and launching, children's activities, and much more as we celebrate Dakota Nights!

Most activities are included with your park entry fee, except when otherwise noted.


Any schedule changes will be posted in red. Please refresh your browser to see the latest updates.

Daytime Activities - Saturday & Sunday - Sept. 16 & 17

9:00am to 4:00pm Discovery Dome Theater
Immerse yourself in films about outer space, planets, stars, and black holes! Films are shown in the full-dome theater on the hour from 9:00am to 4:00 pm in the South Unit Visitor Center.

10:00am to 1:00pm Kids' Crafts and Activities
Join rangers at Chimney Park in Medora for FREE hands-on activities that help kids learn about astronomy.

11:00am (Saturday only) Eclipse with Lynn Powers
NASA Ambassador, Lynn Powers, presents a summary of the August 21st solar eclipse and shows you where, when, and how to see the next one at the Chateau De Mores Interpretive Center in Medora.

1:00 to 3:00pm Rocket Building and Launching
Build, paint, and launch a rocket at Chimney Park in Medora. Rocket kits are $10.

3:00pm Telescope Building
Build a real, working telescope at Chimney Park in Medora. Then, take your scope home and start exploring the night sky where you live. Kits are $10.

3:00pm Saving our Night Skies
NASA Ambassador, Chris Milford, shares his research and findings related to light pollution in North Dakota and his quest to save the darkness of our precious night skies.

1:00 to 4:00pm Solar Viewing
Have you ever seen a sunspot? Safely view the sun (and its spots!) through telescopes and by other means at the South Unit Visitor Center.

Featured Presentations

7:00pm in the Cottonwood Campground Amphitheater

Friday - NASA Cassini Mission Crash into Saturn
Due to rain, this presentation will be held at the Chateau De Mores Interpretive Center in Medora, 7:00pm

For more than 12 years, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been collecting scientific information and photos of Saturn. Astronomer and NASA Ambassador, Lynn Powers, discusses the Cassini Mission and its grand finale as it crashes into the ringed planet today, September 15, 2017.

Saturday - The Importance of Darkness
Due to rain, this presentation will be held at the South Unit Visitor Center, 7:00pm

Learn about the impacts of light pollution on wildlife with a focus on some of night's most misunderstood creatures-bats! Dr. Paul Barnhart will explain the importance of these unique mammals and how human-created light impacts their behavior and survival.

Sunday - Space--What's Out There?
Though the universe is vast and complex, we've come to know a lot about it through thousands of years of scientific discovery. Dr. Corinne Brevik of Dickinson State University leads an exploration of the wonders of Space.

Stargazing and Telescopes

Friday**, Saturday***, & Sunday 8:00pm
Peaceful Valley Ranch

Following the featured presentations each night, join Astronomers and Rangers out under the stars at the Peaceful Valley Ranch. Hear stories, myths, and legends about the stars as you make your way around the telescope field. Bundle up, bring your friends and family, and join us as we gather to marvel at the wonders of the dark night sky.
**Friday - stargazing and telescopes are canceled. Instead, a film will be shown in the Discovery Dome in the South Unit Visitor Center at 8:30pm.
***Saturday - stargazing and telescopes are canceled. Instead, a presentation on astronomy art will be held in the South Unit Visitor Center at 8:00pm.

Last updated: September 16, 2017

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645


(701) 623-4466

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