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A dark night sky is the perfect setting for the North Dakota Badlands Star Party in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The annual event will be held this year on August 21 and 22.
Telescopes will be set up at sunset, about 9:00 p.m. CDT, at the Oxbow Overlook. A constellation tour will be offered as soon as the stars are visible. In addition, the sun can be viewed through solar telescopes which will be located at the North Unit Visitor Center at 2:00 p.m. CDT on Saturday afternoon.
“The Star Party coincides with the new moon, so the sky will be very dark, which is excellent for seeing many stars and the Milky Way,” said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. “Dark skies are a rapidly vanishing resource in the United States. Many people don’t have the opportunity to see stars because of light pollution from cities and other development. The night sky is something we’re trying to preserve in our national parks, and we’re very happy to welcome this event to the park every year.”
The North Dakota Badlands Star Party is hosted by the Northern Sky Astronomical Society of Grand Forks, an amateur astronomy club associated with the University of North Dakota. The organization is dedicated to observing the sky and educating others about astronomy. Membership is open to the general public.
The Oxbow Overlook is 14 miles from the entrance of the North Unit of the park. The drive takes 40-45 minutes and there will be some areas of road construction along the way. Visitors should allow plenty of time for the drive and watch for bison and other wildlife on the road. Nights in the North Dakota badlands can be cool and rain is possible; a jacket or sweater is recommended.