Celebration of Dark Skies in Death Valley: Dark Sky Festival is Feb. 10-12

DEATH VALLEY, CA – Mark your calendars! The annual Death Valley Dark Sky Festival will take place February 10-12. Explore the wonders of space from one of the darkest locations in the United States. Join scientists and park rangers to learn about the cosmos and how Death Valley National Park has been used as an analog for the exploration of distant worlds.

Most people in North America cannot see the Milky Way from their homes due to light pollution. Death Valley National Park is a great place to see the stars. It is recognized as an International Dark Sky Park.

The Death Valley Dark Sky Festival is a partnership between the National Park Service, Death Valley Natural History Association, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center, Las Vegas Astronomical Society, and California Institute of Technology.

All Death Valley Dark Sky Festival programs are free and open to the public. Some of the programs are specifically targeted for families with children. For a full list of programs and lodging options visit the park’s website at nps.gov/deva.

Friday, February 10 

  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    Astrophotography for beginners
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium
    Bring DSLR camera and tripod.
  • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
    Exploration of Venus by Ralph Lorenz, Applied Physics Lab
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium
  • 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    Night Sky Photography
    Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
    Bring a DSLR camera and tripod.
  • 8:00 pm – 8:45 pm
    Astronomy Program
    Harmony Borax Works
    Bring a red flashlight. Optional items are binoculars and a chair.

Saturday, February 11 

  • 5:30 am – 6:30 am
    Moon Walk
    Badwater Basin
    Walk under the light of the moon. 
  • 9:30 am – 10:30 am
    Searching for Signs of Life on Mars
    Mars Hill (junction of Badwater Road & Artists Drive Exit)
    Short walk
  • 10:00 am – 11:00 am
    Dynamic Landscape of Death Valley, As Seen by NASA’s NISAR Mission
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium 
  • 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
    Exploration Fair
    Furnace Creek VC courtyard
    Solar telescopes and booths staffed by scientists from NASA, JPL, SETI, CalTech, park rangers, Desert Studies Center, and the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.
  • 10:00 am – 10:45 am
    Build a Mars Lander (family programming)
    Furnace Creek VC tent
    Become a NASA engineer! Design, build, and land your own “spacecraft” on Mars.
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Life in Europa’s Salty Waters?
    Badwater Basin 
  • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Ubehebe Crater: Mars-like Places on Earth
    Ubehebe Crater
    Strenuous walk to the bottom of Ubehebe Crater.
  • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
    The Science of Black Holes
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    30 Years of Mars Exploration: The Roving Generation
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium 
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    SunRISE Mission Parallels Humans Hiking
    Dantes View 
  • 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
    Build a Mars Lander (family programming)
    Furnace Creek VC tent
    Become a NASA engineer! Design, build, and land your own “spacecraft” on Mars.
  • 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
    Astrophotography for beginners
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium
    Bring DSLR camera and tripod. 
  • 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
    Dune Stories on Earth, Mars and Titan
    Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
    Short walk into sand dunes. Compare and contrast dunes on Earth with other planets.
  • 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    The Cosmic Autobiography by Katarina Markovic
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium
    Cosmology is the study of the full history of our universe from the first moment of the Big Bang, to its inevitable death in the distant future. Listen to the story about how we understand the universe came to be as it is, including its particles, forces, stars, galaxies, as well as the ever-mysterious dark matter and dark energy.
  • 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
    Star Party
    Sunset Campground overflow lot
    Night sky viewing with telescopes. 
  • 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm
    Night Sky Photography
    Harmony Borax Works
    Bring a DSLR camera and tripod. 

Sunday, February 12

  • 9:30 am – 10:30 am
    Searching for Signs of Life on Mars
    Mars Hill (junction of Badwater Road & Artists Drive Exit)
    Short walk 
  • 10:00 am – 11:00 am
    Dynamic Landscape of Death Valley, As Seen by NASA’s NISAR Mission
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium 
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Life in Europa’s Salty Waters?
    Badwater Basin 
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Analog for Planetary Volcanism
    Ubehebe Crater
    Short walk
  • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
    Astronomist Q&A
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium 
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    30 Years of Mars Exploration: The Roving Generation
    Furnace Creek VC auditorium 
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    SunRISE Mission Parallels Humans Hiking
    Dantes View 
  • 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
    Dune Stories on Earth, Mars and Titan
    Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
    Short walk into sand dunes. Compare and contrast dunes on Earth with other planets. 
  • 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
    Star Party
    Sunset Campground overflow lot
    Night sky viewing with telescopes.

(From Death Valley National Park)

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