If you find yourself in Theodore Roosevelt National Park this weekend, head for the North Unit where they're going to be having a star party.
The star-gazing will be offered both Friday and Saturday nights at the North Unit Wildlife Handling Facility, where park staff will set up telescopes at sunset. A constellation tour will be offered as soon as stars are visible, at approximately 10:30 p.m. CDT, each night. In addition, the sun can be viewed through a solar telescope, which will be located at the North Unit Visitor Center from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. CDT on Saturday.
“The Star Party coincides with the new moon, so the sky will be very dark, which is excellent for seeing the night sky,” said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. “Dark skies are a rapidly vanishing resource in the U.S. 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, so we’re pleased to welcome this annual event to the park.”
The access road to the North Unit Wildlife Handling Facility is two miles west of the park entrance. Signs will be posted to direct you to the event location. Caution is advised while driving in the park after dark, as bison and other wildlife may be on the road. Nights in the North Dakota badlands can be cool and rain is possible; a jacket or sweater is recommended.
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.
For further information, please call the North Unit Visitor Center at 701-842-2333.