Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival

Promo banner saying Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival September 3-5, 2021.
Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival is September 3-5 of this year. See the schedule below for details.

NPS Graphic.


Telescopes & Stargazing in the Park

Nightly Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

8:30 to 11:00 pm Peaceful Valley Ranch

Join amateur astronomers and rangers under the stars. Rove from telescope to telescope, each trained on a unique
space object, while you listen to stories of night sky science and mythology. (Telescope field consists of gravel lot.)

Nighttime Keynote Presentations in the Park

Unlocking the Secrets of the Cosmos with Lynn Powers

FRIDAY 7:00 to 8:00 pm (Cottonwood Campground Amphitheater)

Learn how the James Webb Space Telescope will build on the legacy of previous space-based telescopes to push the boundaries of human knowledge from first galaxies to other worlds.

Dark Is Not Enough for Astronomy with Dr. Matt Craig

SATURDAY 7:00 to 8:00 pm (Cottonwood Campground Amphitheater)

Learn how satellite constellations are increasingly threatening the dark night skies at TNRP and affect the work of astronomers worldwide.

Finding the Constellations with Brad Nasset

SUNDAY 7:00 to 8:00 pm (Cottonwood Campground Amphitheater)

Discover the rhythm of our night sky and how to unlock the secrets of finding the constellations.

Daytime Talks in the Park

Batty for Bats! with Ranger Kelsey

SATURDAY 3:30 to 4:30 pm (South Unit Visitor Center)

Debunk myths and learn more about the park’s winged mammals.

Is This the Badlands...or Mars? with Dr. Matt Craig

SUNDAY 3:30 to 4:30 pm (South Unit Visitor Center)

Learn how the Badlands have more in common geologically and chemically with Mars than you might expect!

Daytime Activities in Medora

Solar System Hike

10:00 to 11:30 pm (Ferris Store Lawn)

Hike the distance between the Sun and Neptune (sorry, Pluto!) with a ranger.

Fun in the Sun

12:00 to 3:00 pm (Ferris Store Lawn)
Safely view the sun through solar scopes with our amazing Astronomy Volunteers-In-Parks!

Kids’ Craft and Activity Tent

12:00 to 3:00 pm (De Mores Memorial Park)

Hands-on activities to inspire curiosity about the day and night sky.

Solar System Demo

2:00 to 3:00 pm (De Mores Memorial Park) SAT. ONLY! with Brad Nasset

Using models, learn how orbits of planets determine when and where to view them.
Globular Cluster of Stars (M13)

Tour of the Night Sky

Take a look at four well known objects in the North Dakota night sky. Nebula, clusters and galaxies, oh my!

Navajo Constellations of North Sky

Star Lore of the Indigenous Peoples

The Navajo have a deep connection to the night sky, especially the constellations in the northern sky.

constellations and asterisms

Constellations and the March of Time

Discover the Earth has a “wobble” and find out why Polaris hasn’t always been our north star.

Artist Rendition of a Rover on Mars

Mission to Mars 2020

Join Brad Nasset, NASA Solar System Ambassador as he talks about the many missions to the red planet, Mars.

Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter

See the Planets Tonight!

Curious about which planets are currently in the night sky? Join Brad Nasset as he shows you when and where to see the visible planets.

Star Clusters

Open Globular Star Clusters

What is a star cluster and how are they different from each other.


Our Magnetic Sun

Twinkle, twinkle little star! Which star is closest and what are its properties?

Great Horned Owl sitting on a branch

The Silent Flight of Owls

Owls are the ultimate nocturnal hunters. But how are they able to sneak up on their prey?


Do you have tapetum lucidum?

Spot animals on the side of the road at night by the shine of their eyes? What causes eyeshine and how does it help animals see in the dark?

Ranger with child at table

Make your own Astrolabe

Have you ever wondered about how astronomers learned about the movement of Earth and the placement of constellations throughout the galaxy?

cookies arranged in a circle as eight phases of the moon

Cookie Moon Phases

Have you ever wondered why the moon looks a little bit different every night?

Asteroid Impact Model with flour, sprinkles, cocoa, and rocks

Asteroid Impact Model

What does it look like when an asteroid crashes into the moon and how are craters formed?

Cassiopeia and Cepheus



Last updated: September 3, 2021

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