2023 - Dark-Sky Nature at Night Festival
The 2023 Natural Sky Festival and this page are under construction. The event will occur September 14th - 16, on Bear Creek south of the Buffalo river national park - three nights and two days. This page and the event guide (see link below) are a work in progress. The registration process has not yet been set up. Please use the "Sign-up for Event News" link below to get updates. Participating groups, scout troops, and volunteers should go ahead and sign up using the button links below. Thanks
Participant Entities (2022)
Memphis Astronomical Society
Arkansas Outdoor Photography Club
A community of photography enthusiast promoting techniques for outdoor, nature, wildlife and travel photography.
Buffalo River Partners
Supporting the Goals and Purposes of the Buffalo National River
The Ozark Society
Silver Hill Float Service
Searcy Co. Chamber of Commerce
Buffalo River Community Dev. Corp. Searcy Co.
Arkansas Environmental Education Association
Central Arkansas Astronomical Society
AR Space Grant Consortium
West Tennessee IDA
Lights Out Heartland
Advocating for bird migration safety in the Mississippi Flyway
Buffalo River Art Gallery
Girl Scouts, Diamonds of AR, OK & TX
Sugar Creek Astronomical Society
North Central AR Master Naturalist
Greater Ozarks Audubon Society
Connecting people with nature in our Southwest Missouri communities
"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
-Vincent Van Gogh
"And oft, before tempestuous winds arise, / The seeming stars fall headlong from the skies, /And, shooting through the darkness, gild the night / With sweeping glories and long trains of light."
Activities and Events (subject to change)
A Naked Eye Guided Tour of the Fall sky and its constellations seasoned with classic folklore.
Telescopic Star Party
Telescopic views of the most prominent features of the Fall sky - open clusters, galaxies, planets and more
Celestial Art Class
Learn to draw celestial scenes Link to sign up to be added soon.
Learn the fundamentals of Sky watching - naked eye and with binoculars
Observing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
A total cclipse is coming to Arkansas in 2024. Get ready for this once in a life time event.
Birds, wildlife and much more.
Learn about birds and wildlife and how they depend upon the night.
Lighting Your Home Responsibly
Learn how and why to light your home responsibly
Globe at Night Citizen Scientist
Learn how to measure and report your sky's light pollution level and record it as a citizen scientist
A Pocket Solar System
Learn about the scale of the solar system and put it in your pocket
Nightscape Photography Contest
View and vote on Arkansas night scape photographs Link to enter to be added soon.
Children's Celestial Art Contest
Try your hand a rendering a sketch of a celestial object and vote on which you think are the best.
Giant Bubble Blowing
Who can make the biggest bubble or send theirs the farthest.
Hands on Science Projects, Solar Marshmellows and More
Explore various hands own science projects and cook marshmallows with sun light.
And much more: door prizes, stomp rockets, giant bubble blowing...
Meet Stella the night wise owl!
I am Stella the Night-Wise Owl. I help ANSA advocate for Responsible Lighting and preserving our state's remaining natural sky resources. But right now, I am here to help you learn about and enjoy this festival.
When was the last time you lay under the Milky Way and wandered among its countless stars? When have you seen a distant galaxy whose light has been traveling for millions of years to make you a witness to its existence? When have you seen the ghostly remnants of a dying star or the soft glow of a stellar nursery birthing new ones? Half of nature is at night, and the Buffalo River region is as beautiful at night as in the day. With its nearly natural night skies, you can do all of the above.
So, let's get going. My festival guide below will provide detailed information on the festival activities and times. The Scavenger Hunt is an optional challenge event. Still more information is provided in the Registration process. Indeed, the whole festival is a learning process.
Oh, I was about to forget, the festival is free. If you have other questions, email me at [email protected]
"Time under the stars melds mind and soul, stirring one healing the other."
-Stella, the Night-Wise Owl (as all owls are you know)
Night Scape Photo Contest
Drawing upon the International Dark-Sky Association's Capture the Night photo contest, Dark-Sky festival participants will have the opportunity to vote on winners in seven different categories of Arkansas night sky images.
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff."
Places to Stay, Eat, and Visit
The services feature below are not part of the event, and the organizers take no responsibility for the services provided. The light blue text links to the items listed below to make your trip planning easier. Where you stay can be half the adventure, so be open to new possibilities. (Note, volunteers should sign up before reserving a place to stay as special options are available.)
Places to Stay
Grinders Ferry & other UPS campsites
Grinders Ferry is a free primitive camping site on the banks of the Buffalo, just off How. 65 near Tyler Bend. A similar site is near by at Gilbert.
Stella's Dark-Sky Host Map
ANSA's map of Cabins, Lodges and Campgrounds that have dark-skies and support responsible lighting.
Searcy Co. Chamber Lodging Website
Lodging options in Searcy County maintained by the Chamber of Commerce
Gilbert General Store - Camping & cabins
Gilbert RV Park
Vacation Home/Cabin Rentals
There are a number of vacation rentals in the area that can be found on the internet.
Food & Beverage
Area Dining Options
Gilbert General Store
Covered outdoor dinning downtown Gilbert. Us this link to confirm service is available.
Coursey's Smoked Meats
Coursey's is really about smoked meats but they also offer Sandwiches and the like
Points of Interest & Special Services
Woodland Wonders Nursery
Also located in Gilbert is a small plant nursery specializing in native azaleas
While the festival is free, Registration is required so that we can plan the event. Yes, you will be able to just drop in, but you will have to register on-site if you do. Our volunteers and planners would much prefer that you tell us you are coming and also, you will learn more about the event and how to prepare in the registration process.
Please sign up for the event news, and we will let you know when the registration process is up and running. Thanks.