Badlands National Park will host an astronomy festival this weekend.

Journal file

This month, stargazers will have a great opportunity to enjoy a star-filled sky over an otherworldly landscape. 

The 6th annual Badlands Astronomy Festival will bring together space science professionals, amateur astronomers, educators and youth groups for several events this weekend. The event features a weekend of planetariums shows, solar education and public stargazing.

Aaron Kaye, Badlands supervisory park ranger and festival coordinator, said the festival is a great opportunity to celebrate the beautiful night sky and learn more about space. 

Because Badlands National Park is isolated from major towns and has vast stretches of land, there is very little light pollution in the park, making it a perfect spot to host an astronomy festival. 

"Thankfully, this area is one of the darker places the country at this point," Kaye said.

On clear nights, visitors can see thousands of stars and the Milk Way Galaxy with amazing clarity from the park. Visitors are also treated to fly-overs by numerous satellites and the International Space Station when they peer through telescopes at the night sky. 

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.

The event will host planetarium shows that take place at The Ben Reifel Visitor Center Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Journey Museum will be providing the portable planetarium. 

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A solar observing event will take place starting Friday, June 23 and running each day through the weekend, at the visitor center from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Participants can view solar flares and sunspots through a special solar telescopes.

Each night will feature a guest speaker and public stargazing event multiple state-of-the-art telescopes and amateur astronomers providing constellation tours. On Friday, presenters from the Black Hills Raptor Center will talk about owls. Saturday will feature Tom Durkin of the NASA S.D. Space Grant Consortium, and on Sunday, Kevin Poe of Dark Ranger Telescope Tours will give a presentation. 

Evening programs will be held at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater starting at 8 p.m. on Friday and 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 

Astronomy Festival events do not require advance registration or tickets. 

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