Programs and Special Events

Programs and Special Events


The night sky throughout the Reserve is pretty amazing any night of the year. It’s mostly a DIY adventure so you can just go outside and look up.


We cooperate with several local organizations that include star-gazing events and astronomy programs as part of their educational programming. You can check out the websites below to find dark sky related presentations.


For a do-it-yourself tour, Highway 75 offers a beautiful drive through the heart of the Reserve from Stanley to Ketchum. Highway 21 provides access through the northwest corner of the Reserve from Boise to Stanley. If you plan to drive through the Reserve at night, be alert for wildlife (deer, elk, pronghorn, etc) which tend to be more active after dusk along or crossing the highway.

Celestial Events

The year ahead offers many celestial delights for sky-watchers, including new moons, meteor showers and great views of several planets. The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve offers exceptional views of these upcoming night sky events.

Celestial Events for 2021

New Moons – The night sky is darkest on new Moon nights which makes for great stargazing.

January 13, February 11, March 13, April 11, May 11, June 10, July 9, August 8, September 6, October 6, November 4, December 4


Other events:

January 2-3 – Quadrantids Meteor Shower. This meteor shower can produce up to 40 meteors per hour in a good year. The meteors radiate from the Bootes constellation but can be seen anywhere in the sky

March 20 – Spring Equinox.  On the day of the equinox the Sun is directly above the equator, resulting in nearly equal amounts of day and night.

April 22-23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids Meteor Shower is produced trailing dust particles from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and typically produces up to 20 meteors per hour. Meteors in this shower are associated with the constellation Lyra.

May 6-7 — Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere but some meteors may be visible in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times.

May 26Total Lunar Eclipse.  Total lunar eclipses occur when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow or umbra and the Moon gets gradually darker and takes on a dark orange or red color. A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a blood moon due to this reddish color.

June 21 — Summer Solstice. The summer solstice occurs when the North Pole of the Earth is tilted toward the Sun. On this day we have the longest period of daylight and the Sun is in its northernmost position in the sky.

July 28-29 — Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak.

August 12-13 — Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. Meteors radiate from the constellation Perseus but typically streak across all areas of the night sky.

September 22 — September Equinox. On the day of the equinox the Sun is directly above the equator, resulting in nearly equal amounts of day and night.

October 7 — Draconids Meteor Shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers.

October 21-22 — Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times.

October 31 Full Moon/Blue Moon. Since this is the second full moon in October, it is sometimes referred to as a blue moon.

November 17-18 — Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids produces up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak.  The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865.

November 19 Partial Lunar Eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra and only a portion passes through the darkest shadow or umbra. During this type of eclipse, part of the Moon will darken but not entirely.

December 13-14 — Geminids Meteor Shower. The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982.

December 21 — Winter Solstice. The winter solstice occurs when the South Pole of the Earth is tilted toward the Sun. On this day we have the shortest period of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and the Sun is in its southernmost position in the sky.

December 21, 22Ursids Meteor Shower. The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790.


These selected events are from the Astronomy Calendars on the and Sea and Sky websites which have much more detailed information about these and other night sky happenings.

Educational Partners

Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association (SIHA), Stanley

The Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association (SIHA) is a member-based organization that was established as a cooperating association in 1972 when the Sawtooth National Recreation Area was established by Congress. It operates in cooperation with the Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis National Forests.

Sawtooth Botanical Garden, Wood River Valley

The Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a community resource showcasing native and cultivated plants that flourish at high altitude. The Garden connects people to the region’s unique beauty and fosters environmental stewardship through education, events, displays and plant collections.

Environmental Resource Center, Ketchum

The Environmental Resource Center (ERC) was founded in 1993 by a group of volunteer environmentalists dedicated to the health and vitality of the Wood River Valley (Blaine County).

Today, we are a small – but mighty – nonprofit working to tackle large issues on a local scale. Our environmental education programs reach people of all ages and provide individuals with opportunities to gain the knowledge, tools, and confidence needed to become stewards and leaders. Our community initiatives work to reduce waste and toxins, which ensure healthy soils and water, while galvanizing the community to protect our natural resources.

Hailey Public Library, Hailey

The Hailey Public Library strives to connect citizens of all ages with current, high-interest materials and information. We provide personnel, programs and technologies that encourage lifelong learning, discovery and enrichment.

Additional Dark Sky and Astronomical Resources in the Surrounding Area

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve and International Dark Sky Park

Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park Observatory

Herrett Center – College of Southern Idaho Centennial Observatory and Faulkner Planetarium


Local Astronomy Clubs and Societies

Boise Astronomical Society

Idaho Falls Astronomical Society

Magic Valley Astronomical Society

Past Events


June 14 — Craters of the Moon (Arco), Full Moon Hike: Experience Craters of the Moon beneath the full moon! Bring a flashlight, hiking shoes, water, and your curiosity about our lunar connections.Reservations are required and walks will be limited to 25 people. Contact the park at 208-527-1335 or to make a reservation.

June 21 — Ketchum Town Square (Ketchum), 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Summer Solstice Soiree: Join us for a Dark Sky Celebration!

June 28-29 — Craters of the Moon (Arco), 9:30 pm, Star Party: Join experts from the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society and our very own “Astro-Ranger” to experience the universe at this International Dark Sky Park. Opportunities for solar viewing will be available at the visitor center both days. At 9:30 p.m. each evening there will be a presentation about the night sky at the campground amphitheater. Then head to the Caves Area parking lot for telescope viewing of the skies above. Call 208-527-1335 for more information.

July 20 — Craters of the Moon (Arco), Craters of the Moon staff and partner organizations will host a special event celebrating the 50th anniversary of astronauts walking on the “Moon” (on the lunar surface and right here in Idaho!). Special activities will include presentations by astronaut John Phillips, youth activities, and opportunities to view the lunar surface through a telescope. MOONFEST events will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center and from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Lava Flow Campground Amphitheater

August 23 —Stanley Museum (Stanley), 5 pm – 6 pm, Forum and LectureSeries: Astronomy Before Galileo with Brian Jackson



May 22 — Sawtooth Botanical Garden, Astronomy in the Garden — Shoot the night sky with your camera or cell phone


June 15 – 16 — Stanley Pioneer Park, Dark Sky Celebration and Star Party, Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce


July 6 — Stanley Museum, 5 pm: The Scorpion, the Archer and the Swan: Stars of the Summer Milky Way with Tim Frazier, Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association (SIHA)


July 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 & 29 — Craters of the Moon:  9:30 pm – 11 pm: Astronomy Programs: Join us at the Visitor Center for a short presentation followed by viewing opportunities through the park’s telescope. Bring a chair or blanket to sit on, dress warmly, bring a flashlight to get back to camp but please use red lights only once in the viewing area.


July 19 – 20  —  Arco & Craters of the Moon: American Solar Challenge – Come cheer on university teams as they drive their solar powered vehicles across the nation. These teams will stop in Arco on July 19 and then start from Craters of the Moon on July 20. The event in Arco will take place at Butte High School from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Besides viewing the cars, there will also be opportunities to learn more about scientific research with displays about space science, dark skies, and the Oregon Trail. On July 20, the cars will start from the Devil’s Orchard trailhead at Craters of the Moon beginning at 9:00 a.m.


July 27 — Stanley Museum, 5 pm: Dark Sky Photography with Nils Ribi, Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association


July 27 — Craters of the Moon, 9 pm – 11 pm: Full Moon Hike: Explore this unearthly landscape under a full moon. Cooler temperatures make this moderate, 1-mile evening hike pleasant. Wear sturdy shoes, and bring snacks, water, and a light jacket. Reservations are required; please call 208-527-1335 or contact us by email: 


July 28 — Stanley Library: Science of Planetary Exploration and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, 6:00 PM- Join Dr. Brian Jackson, Professor of Physics/Astronomy, Boise State University for a one hour lecture followed by two hours of general stargazing with a telescope at the Stanley Ranger Station parking lot.


August 3 – 4— Craters of the Moon: Star Party – Join experts from the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society and experience the universe under our naturally dark skies. Telescopes will be set up in the Caves Area parking lot for viewing the stars and planets. Dress warmly and bring flashlights. Red lights preferred for optimal dark sky viewing.


August 4 – 5 — Coyote Yurt (Smoky Mountains near Ketchum) – Overnight Trek into the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve: Sun Valley Trekking and the Idaho Conservation League are teaming up to bring you the Milky Way. Join us to experience the night sky like nowhere else. You don’t want to miss one of the most unique backcountry mountain star gazing adventures on the planet! Call Sun Valley Trekking at 208.788.1966 to reserve your spot.


August 10 — Stanley City Park, Perseid Meteor Shower, stargazing, and discussion of Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve,  join Dr. Matt Benjamin, freelance astronomer, for a free evening of stargazing, 9:30PM – 11:00PM


August 12 — Sawtooth Botanical Garden, Astronomy in the Garden Family night at Croy Canyon


August 31 — Stanley Museum, 5 pm, Songbirds and the Stars with Heidi Ware, Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association

error: Content is protected !!