"I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night"
2024 - Arkansas Dark-Sky Festival, September 26th - 28th
The 2024 Arkansas Dark-Sky Festival will be three days alongside picturesque Bear Creek, just off of Hyw. 65 south of the Buffalo River, an International Dark-Sky Park. During the day, there will be presentations, hikes, and other activities for adults and children. Each night, we will rediscover the night sky as our ancestors knew it, complete with guided constellation tours and telescopic views of celestial objects under the Summer Milk Way. Please explore this page, view the short video from the 2023 event, and check out the Event Guide Section.
Note: Registration is not yet open and will be limited - first come, first served. To make registration numbers reliable and cover costs, a small registration fee ($5 per vehicle plus $1 per person - good for the entire event) will be charged for those not camping onsite. To get notice of registration opening and other information on this and other dark-sky-related events, subscribe to our Event News! And/or consider Joining ANSA to get the earliest information and other event-related benefits and discounts.
Our Featured Speaker - Dr. Jennifer Wiseman
Our featured speaker last year was Dr. Amber Straughn, a member of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Team who grew up in Bee Branch. It was assumed we could not match that for this year's event. But, what do you know, Arkansas has produced more than one rural-born NASA Astrophysics Wonder Woman!
Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is a senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where she serves as the senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. Before that, she headed Goddard’s Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics.
Wiseman’s scientific expertise is centered on the study of star-forming regions in our galaxy. She has a particular interest in dense interstellar gas cloud cores, embedded protostars, and their related outflows as active ingredients of cosmic nurseries where stars and their planetary systems are born.
As an undergraduate, Wiseman discovered the comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff. Dr. Wiseman is also interested in science policy and public science outreach. She has appeared in many science and news venues, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NOVA, and National Public Radio.
PS, both Drs. Wiseman and Staughn will be featured in the state capitol's exhibit on astronomy in Arkansas, which will be on display sometime in February.
"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."
2023 Activities and Events (subject to change 2024)
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
Nightscape Photography Class
Learn to photograph the night sky Link to sign up to be added soon.
Dark-Sky Scout Merit Badge
In addition to qualifying for the scout astronomy badge, scouts can earn a special ANSA Dark-Sky badge
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...
"I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars."
-Augustine 'Og' Mandino
Festival Event Guide
I am Stella, the Night-Wise Owl. I am here to help you learn about the Festival.
When did you last lay under the Milky Way and wander 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? Under the nearly natural night skies along the Buffalo River, an international Dark-Sky Park, you can do all of the above.
Click on the Festival Guide button below. It provides essential information on the festival - location, activities, and times. The other buttons below (Star Party Program, Scavenger Hunt, and Binocular Advice) provide additional information you may find useful. Further down the page is information on places to stay and eat.
Registration is required using the Festival Guest Registration button at the bottom of the page, where participating organizations, volunteers, and scouts troops can also sign-up.
If you encounter any problems or have other questions, email me at [email protected].
Participant Entities (2023) to be updated
Memphis Astronomical Society
Arkansas Outdoor Photography Club
Buffalo River Partners
The Ozark Society
Searcy Co. Chamber of Commerce
Buffalo River Community Dev. Corp. Searcy Co.
Arkansas Environmental Education Association
AR Monarch Conservation Partnership
Central Arkansas Astronomical Society
West Tennessee IDA
Lights Out Heartland
Girl Scouts, Diamonds of AR, OK & TX
Sugar Creek Astronomical Society
North Central AR Master Naturalist
Greater Ozarks Audubon Society
Wild Ones - Ozark Chapter
"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
-Vincent Van Gogh
Registration and Sign-ups
All Registration links are under construction; please use the Event News button below to get an update on registration opening.
Everyone should Sign-up for "Event News." Festival Volunteers*, Scout Troops, and other organizations (astronomy, environmental, educational, and local civic) that want to participate in the festival should use the appropriate button below once registration opens. Everyone else should register using the "Festival General Registration Button." Thanks, see you there.
Stella the Night Wise Owl.
*Speaking of volunteers, we can use aplenty. There are all kinds of jobs that anyone can do. But we are also looking for musical talent and a videographer as well. There are discounts and free admission for volunteers, so jump in and join the team.
"Scales - Gazing upon winter's lofty keep. Earth, sky, moon, stars, boundless deep. A vista of scales diverse lowly earth, universe. Hand outstretched, fingers wide myriad galaxies hide. Stardust caressing silent trees. Moon plays peek-a-boo in darkling clouds on silent breeze. Stars; shimmering beacons in frigid air. Dancing in vault of night most fair. Earth touches sky; sky embraces earth. Mundane frames fantastic in spiritual birth."
"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
Stella's Dark-Sky Host Map
Searcy Co. Chamber Lodging Website
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
Coursey's Smoked Meats
Points of Interest & Special Services
Woodland Wonders Nursery