Grand Canyon Star Party: Astronomy at the Edge of the Universe

Turn down the lights and get ready to party! At the Grand Canyon Star Party, you’ll meet astronomers, have access to more than 40 high powered telescopes and explore Meteor Crater.
Rating (4.5)
Program No. 16157RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Glance down and you will see some of the oldest exposed rocks from our planet. Glance up and you will behold the origin of our universe. Welcome to the Grand Canyon Star Party! Enjoy two nights of sky watching at one of Arizona's greatest astronomical events of the year as more than 40 telescopes are pointed at the skies above to behold the wonders of clear June skies.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one mile over varied terrain. Elevations up to 7,000 feet.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • In Flagstaff, a center for astronomical study since the late 1800s, meet astronomers and discuss planetary geology, the origin of the universe, NASA projects and other current topics.
  • Visit Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered, and Meteor Crater, the world's best-preserved meteorite impact site, that was used as a training ground for the Apollo astronauts.
  • At the Grand Canyon, learn about the geology of this world wonder and national treasure while enjoying walks to its most spectacular viewpoints.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Bryan Bates
Bryan Bates is an ex-officio member of the governing board for the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture. Under a NASA grant, he created a course manual for archaeoastronomy and published research on a solar calendar at Wupatki and an equinox site near Stoneman Lake. He is involved in a research project on archaeoastronomy at Mesa Verde National Park and teaches archaeoastronomy, as well as biology, environmental science, natural history and chemistry.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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David Cole
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Bryan Bates
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Grand Canyon: A History of a Natural Wonder and National Park
by Don Lago
The Grand Canyon has long inspired deep emotions and responses. For the Native Americans who lived there, the canyon was home, full of sacred meanings. For the first European settlers to see it, the canyon drove them to great exploration adventures. Yet the canyon held an even deeper importance for America's pioneer conservationists such as Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold, and it played a central role in the emerging environmental movement. Many vivid characters shaped the canyon's past. It's largest story is one of cultural history and changing American visions of the land. This book is a mixture of great story-telling, unlikely characters, and important ideas. It will appeal to anyone interested in gaining a broader understanding of the canyon.
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Greene, Brian
A new edition of the New York Times bestseller—now a three-part Nova special: a fascinating and thought-provoking journey through the mysteries of space, time, and matter. 464pp
Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space
by Schmidt, Stanley
"Let the meek inherit the earth—the rest of us are going to the stars! Here's how it's going to be done." — Robert Zubrin "These articles are not 'just science fiction.' They are things we can do—and with any luck at all, and vision and determination, we will." — Stanley Schmidt Take off on a thrilling journey of space exploration and speculation—to the realm where science fiction becomes science fact—as leading writers, researchers, and astronautic engineers describe a not-too-distant future of interstellar travel and colonization. From cable cars that ride "skyhooks" into space to rockets that can refuel out of Martian air, from "terraforming" planets (a process that makes them habitable for human life) to faster-than-light propulsion systems, Islands in the Sky offers an astonishing collection of challenging—and plausible—ideas and proposals from the pages of Analog magazine. Brilliant and provocative, here is fun-filled reading for everyone interested in science, technology, and the future. 276pp Biography: STANLEY SCHMIDT, Ph.D., is the Editor of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine, for which he has received 16 Hugo Award nominations. He is the author of four novels, including Lifeboat Earth and Newton and the Quasi-Apple, and is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Space Society.
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandries
by Tyson, Neil DeGrasse
What would it feel like if your spaceship were to venture too close to the black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way? According to astrophysicist Tyson, director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium, size does matter when it comes to black holes, although the chances of your surviving the encounter aren't good in any case. Tyson takes readers on an exciting journey from Earth's hot springs, where extremophiles flourish in hellish conditions, to the frozen, desolate stretches of the Oort Cloud and the universe's farthest reaches, in both space and time. Tyson doesn't restrict his musings to astrophysics, but wanders into related fields like relativity and particle physics, which he explains just as clearly as he does Lagrangian points, where we someday may park interplanetary filling stations. He tackles popular myths (is the sun yellow?) and takes movie directors most notably James Cameron to task for spectacular goofs. In the last section the author gives his take on the hot subject of intelligent design. Readers of Natural History magazine will be familiar with many of the 42 essays collected here, while newcomers will profit from Tyson's witty and entertaining description of being pulled apart atom by atom into a black hole, and other, closer-to-earth, and cheerier, topics. 9 illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. 384pp
Foundations of Astronomy
by Seeds, Michael A
New edition of a colorful textbook for introductory astronomy courses. It presents astronomy as a unified system of understanding that relates the student's personal experience to the basic processes in the universe. This edition includes new discoveries and hypotheses as well as the more gradual changes in understanding among astronomers concerning such things as black holes, dark matter, and the geology of Venus. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) 736pp Biography: Mike Seeds is Professor, Emeritus of Astronomy at Franklin and Marshall College, where he has taught since 1970. His research interests have focused on peculiar variable stars and the automation of astronomical telescopes. He extended his research by serving as the principal astronomer in charge of the Phoenix 10, the first fully robotic telescope, located in southern Arizona.
The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s)
by Timothy Ferris
From the prizewinning author who has been called "the greatest science writer in the world" comes this delightfully comprehensive and comprehensible report on how science today envisions the universe as a whole. Timothy Ferris provides a clear, elegantly written overview of current research and a forecast of where cosmological theory is likely to go in the twenty-first century. He explores the questions that have occurred to even casual readers — who are curious about nature on the largest scales: What does it mean to say that the universe is "expanding," or that space is "curved"? — and sheds light on the possibility that our universe is only one among many universes, each with its own physical laws and prospects for the emergence of life. 400pp
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes
by Hawking, Stephen
Hawking's discovery that black holes emit particles caused great excitement among astronomers. In this succinct overview of current theories of the cosmos, the Cambridge University physicist modestly weaves in his own notable contributions while giving due credit to his colleagues. He explains why relativity implies that a "big bang'' occurred and examines string theory, which posits a universe of 10 or 26 dimensions. His understanding of time's flow leads him to conclude that intelligent beings can only exist during the expansion phase of our increasingly chaotic universe. New research on black holes and subatomic particles holds implications for scientists who, like Hawking, are attempting to devise a unified theory linking Einstein to quantum mechanics. The merit of this book is Hawking's ability to make these ideas graspable by the lay reader. Publisher's Weekly (April) 224pp
The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
From Pluto's 1930 discovery to the emotional reaction worldwide to its demotion from planetary status, astrophysicist, science popularizer and Hayden Planetarium director deGrasse Tyson (Death by Black Hole) offers a lighthearted look at the planet. Astronomical calculations predicted the presence of a "mysterious and distant Planet X" decades before Clyde Tombaugh spotted it in 1930. DeGrasse Tyson speculates on why straw polls show Pluto to be the favorite planet of American elementary school students (for one, "Pluto sounds the most like a punch line to a hilarious joke"). But Pluto's rock and ice composition, backward rotation and problematic orbit raised suspicions. As the question of Pluto's nature was definitively relegated Pluto to the icy realm of Kuiper Belt Objects (cold, distant leftovers from the solar system's being debated by scientists, the newly constructed Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Hayden Planetarium quietly but formation), raising a firestorm. Astronomers discussed and argued and finally created an official definition of what makes a planet. This account, if a bit Tyson-centric, presents the medicine of hard science with a sugarcoating of lightness and humor. 35 color and 10 b&w illus. (Jan.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 194pp
The Theory of Everything
by Hawking, Stephen
Hawking takes readers on a fascinating journey through the telescopic lens of modern physics to gain a new glimpse of the universe--the nature of black holes, the space-time continuum, and new information about the origin of the universe. 132pp

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