Your 4 season, family fun, Nebraska Sandhills adventure awaits!
Nebraska Star Party
The excitement begins...you’re about to see something you’ve probably not really seen - ever. That’s the darkest skies in the northern hemisphere! And they’re here in Valentine, Nebraska. Every year star gazers gather at Merritt Reservoir, 27 miles south of Valentine on Highway 97 at the Snake Campground.
Every year there is something special - in 2013, it was a Nebraskan and former astronaut, Clayton Anderson, who has actually been to space...twice. In 2014, Fred Espank or "Mr. Eclipse" was the keynote speaker. In 2015, we saw the very first pictures of the surface of Mars.
Check the Schedule of Events for the dates for this year's Nebraska Star Party.
The star gazers will show you objects that aren’t visible with the naked eye...deep space objects. They’ll share their telescopes, answer questions, and point out constellations, galaxies, and the Milky Way. You may even be blessed enough to see an aurora borealis like the gazers have in years past. They're a sight to behold and will send up a collective gasp as the light show progresses.
There is a lot to learn about our skies - and you can too by registering for the school which is held during the day at the Valentine High School, located on the corner of Fifth and Green Street. There are classes for beginners, advanced star gazers and children. Along with a swap meet that has books on the subject of astronomy, telescopes, and hardware pertaining to telescopes such as eye pieces.
Register early and sign up for the meal plan. You can sign up by going to
Remember, you’re at a State Park and permits are required, to enjoy the night skies.
As the sun sets...there is a bustle of excitement as the gazers begin to set up their telescopes. They vary in size from the small easily manageable ones to the large haul-it-in-a-trailer type. If the weather is inclement...no worries...there’s still plenty to do while waiting for it to clear up.
The sun is sinking...settling behind the hills...and it won’t be long before the show really begins! Everyone’s a star at the annual Nebraska Star Party - an event of galactic proportions! To find out more or to register online go to: http://www.nebraskastarparty.org.
Should the cabins and campgrounds be full consider staying at the Double RR Guest Ranch, which is 29.4 miles from Merritt Reservoir, while a stay in Valentine is 34.1 miles. Either direction is breathtaking, full of our rolling Sandhills, ponds, wildlife...and the further out you get, the darker the skies. Which is really what it's all about!