Great Basin Astronomy Festival
With the darkest, quietest skies in the Lower 48, Great Basin National Park is the perfect place for an astronomy festival. Unbelievable stargazing takes center stage over the course of three event-packed days (and nights), featuring everything from star parties and constellation talks to astrophotography workshops and Art in the Dark creations.
All Astronomy Festival events are free, making it one of the busiest and most exciting weekends to visit Great Basin National Park. Generous volunteers set up telescopes near the Astronomy Amphitheater to show off Nevada’s dazzling night sky to anyone interested in seeing far-off galaxies, nearby planets, and an endless number of dark sky objects. Expert guest speakers discuss astrophysics and astronomy, and rangers help teach visitors how to identify constellations visible to the naked eye in the Great Basin night skies and beyond. Art in the Dark invites kids (and kids at heart) to create and paint in low-light conditions, experimenting with how our eyes see color.
Some special events do require advance registration, though, but they’re well worth the extra effort. Tour the Great Basin Observatory, which is the only research-grade observatory in a national park, or hone your astrophotography skills during a night workshop geared toward beginners. Check on reservation details as the Great Basin Astronomy Festival draws nearer.
Home to some of the last true dark skies in the country, Great Basin is a DarkSky-certified park with an ethos to protect this rare and pristine nighttime environment. On clear, moonless nights, thousands of stars, planets, meteorites, galaxies, nebulas, and beyond can be visible to the naked eye—made possible by Great Basin’s remote, high elevation location, which has some of the lowest light and noise pollution levels in the nation.
Astronomy Program Schedule
Not able to attend the Astronomy Festival? No problem! While this is the premier stargazing event in Nevada and certainly something every road tripper should experience at least once, Great Basin National Park hosts additional astronomy programs throughout the year.
Led by expert astronomy rangers, each program includes a 30-minute talk followed by 90 minutes of star and space gazing through telescopes. Great Basin’s astronomy programs typically take place every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the summer months (Memorial Day through Labor Day) and then Saturdays only through late October. No reservations are needed to attend these free programs, but arrive early – there is a capacity cap, and visitors will be turned away once the Lehman Caves Visitor Center parking lots have filled up.