"I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night" - Sarah Williams

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.

One purpose of the festival is to show people what light pollution costs us in our daily lives.  Relatively unpolluted night skies like those at Bear Creek Cabins and the Buffalo National River have become rare and precious. But you can help preserve them and nature at night! Find out more here.

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.  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

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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, born on a farm near Mt. Home, 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.  

"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." - Virgil

2023 Activities and Events (subject to change 2024)

Observing Activities
Learning Activities
Playing Activities
  • Constellation Tour

    A Naked Eye Guided Tour of the Milky Way and constellations of the early Fall sky, seasoned with classic Greek and Roman Mythology.

  • Telescopic Star Party

    Telescopic views of the most prominent features of the Fall sky - open clusters, galaxies, planets and more. See more in the Event Guides Section below.

  • Celestial Scavenger Hunt

    Bring your binoculars and hunt down a list of celestial whose who objects. See more in the Event Guides Section below.

  • Nightscape Photography Class

    Learn to photograph the Milky Way - lectures and hands on workshop. See more in the Event Guides Section below.

  • Dark-Sky Scout Merit Badge

    In addition to qualifying for the scout astronomy badge, scouts can earn a special ANSA Dark-Sky badge. See more in the Event Guides Section below.

  • 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

  • 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 Guides

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 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 of Bear Creek Cabins near the Buffalo National River, an international Dark-Sky Park, you can do all of the above.

Click the Festival Guide button below to view and download essential information on the festival - location, activities, and times.  The other buttons (Star Party Program, Milky Way Photo Workshop, Scavenger Hunt, and Binocular Advice) provide information about special activities or give advice on things you may find useful.  Further down the page is information on places to Stay, Eat and Visit.

Note that registration for the festival is required for all guests.  A fee of $5 per vehicle and $1 per person is charged to cover the costs of the event.  Any excess will go to fund ANSA's advocacy.  The number of vehicles registered will be limited, and registration will be closed once the limit is reached. Use the Festival Guest Registration button in the Registration and Sign-ups section further down the page to register your party.  Volunteers attend the event for free and use the Volunteer Sign-up Process button instead of registering.

If you encounter any problems or have other questions, email me at [email protected].

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Participant Entities (2023) to be updated

"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 is encouraged to Sign-up for "Event News" to stay abreast of the festival and ANSA's larger scope of activities and advocacy. Everyone wanting to attend the festival must either register using the Guest Registration below or sign up to be a Festival Volunteer using the Volunteer Sign-up button.  See the Festival Guide section above for more information on registration fees, activities, schedules, etc.  The Scout merit badge program and the Milky Way Photo Workshop require sign-up in addition to registering for the festival.  Organizations (astronomy, environmental, educational, and local civic) that want to participate in the festival as a supporting organization should apply with the participating group button.

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 volunteer admission, 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." - John Reed
"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." - Carl Sagan

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.)

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