Space enthusiasts of all ages are invited to Medora and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park this weekend to celebrate North Dakota’s night skies at the fifth annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival.

“People have been marveling at the night skies for millennia,” said Eileen Andes, chief of interpretation and public affairs for the park. “Dakota Nights celebrates the beauty and fragility of this awe-inspiring resource and makes it accessible and fun for people of all ages. You don’t have to be an astronomy expert; our festival has something for everyone.”

Daytime activities include model rocket building and launching, a build-your-own telescope workshop, sun gazing, solar system hikes, family astronomy activities and hourly presentations in Dickinson State University’s Discovery Dome.

Guest speakers include NASA ambassador Lynn Powers, who will lead Friday evening's discussion about NASA’s 12-year Cassini Mission to Saturn.

Paul Barnhart, of Dickinson State University, will speak about dark night skies and their importance to bats — and to us — Saturday evening.

Corinne Brevik, of Dickinson State University, will lead Sunday evening's exploration of the wonders of space and scientific discovery.

Each of the three astronomy presentations begins at 7 p.m. Mountain time at the Cottonwood Campground amphitheater. Afterward, astronomers will share the mysteries of the universe while star gazing in a field of more than a dozen telescopes at the historic Peaceful Valley Ranch.

All festival events are free, though park entrance fees apply.

A listing of activities and an event map are available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/thro.

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