Night Sky Program

View the night skies and learn about the Winter Solstice and nighttime photography Saturday at Agate Fossil Beds.

National Park Service Photo

The Winter Soltice skies above Agate Fossil Beds National Park will be on display and the focus of a Night Sky program Saturday from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Rangers Alvis Mar and Tony Mincu will take visitors on a tour of the Winter Solstice night skies. Learn about the Winter Solstice, multicultural interpretation of the stars and the night sky. Also the Geminid Meteor Showers will be visible. Tips about night sky photography will also be available.

The visitor center will be open from 8 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on that day. Starting in the visitor center at 5:30 p.m. the rangers will lead a discussion about the Winter Solstice, shooting stars and the multicultural interpretation of stars and the night sky over the centuries. Then view the celestial objects in the sky, receive tips on night sky photography from Tony Mincu and finish the evening by 7:30 p.m. with s’mores.

Visitors are encouraged to be prepared for an excellent night time learning experience by dressing for the weather, bringing their camera and a tri-pod, and a flashlight. A red balloon, provided by the park, will allow use of a flashlight to see but not hamper night vision. Spend some time with your camera before the program to learn where your camera’s manual settings are located and how to attach to a tripod.

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Tony Mincu is a Renaissance man, former Paramedic, Police Prosecutor and Town Manager in various mid-sized towns. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts with a BA in History. He returned to graduate school 20 years later and earned a JD (Juris Doctor) from the University of New Hampshire. Mincu has a passion for history, old things, and anything having to do with the outdoors, as well as photographing everything he sees in nature, including the night sky.

Alvis Mar, Lead Interpretive Ranger, has worked in several national parks over the years including Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains and the NPS Midwest Regional Office in Omaha. Because Mar grew up in a light polluted city, he has always enjoyed the amazing night skies in national parks.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located just 22 miles south of Harrison, or 34 miles north of Mitchell, Nebraska, on State Highway 29, then east on River Road for three miles to the visitor center. The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily.  The park’s two trails are open from dawn to dusk.  Admission to Agate Fossil Beds is free. For more information, call 308-668-2211, go to

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