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The Astronomer in Residence program offers professional and amateur astronomers, educators, scientists, writers, and visual and performing artists the opportunity to practice and share their discipline under one of the most pristine night skies in the United States.
Through artwork and educational outreach, the program inspires park visitors about the values of dark night skies, spreads awareness about the threats of light pollution, and explores society’s complex relationships with natural darkness.
The program is modeled after the Artist in Residence program popular in parks across the country. The park hosts a chosen applicant on-site for a short-term residency; the resident, in turn, completes projects in their medium through direct experience of the park’s resources. Some amount of finished product is donated to the park and some amount of visitor outreach is agreed upon based on the nature of the residency. The difference is that this program focuses on night skies, astronomy, and the various disciplines studying natural darkness.
Not only are astronomers encouraged to apply—we also invite educators, advocates, artists, and other outreach disciplines to share their expert knowledge, inspiration, and equipment with park visitors.
Dates are subject to change
July 30, 2021
applications open for 2022
August 30, 2021
Fall Astronomer in Residence
September 30, 2021
applications close for 2022
November 15, 2021
Fall Astronomer in Residence
The program is similar to the Artist in Residence Program hosted by various national parks. The difference is that the primary focus is on night skies, astronomy, and the various disciplines studying natural darkness. Not only are artists encouraged to apply, the Astronomer in Residence Program also invites educators, advocates, scientists, and other outreach disciplines to share their expert knowledge, inspiration, and equipment with park visitors. The goal is for the applicant to be inspired by the night skies at Grand Canyon and to share that inspiration with park visitors as well as with their own followers.
The Grand Canyon Astronomer in Residence is offered in three or week intervals between April 1-May 23, August 1-September 2, and November 28-December 23. The resident can choose which timeframe they would like to be on-site. A minimum of three weeks is required, with a maximum of four. There is a base stipend of $1,250 for the first three weeks, then a stipend of $250 if the applicant chooses to stay an extra week.
Partners, spouses, and guests for the duration of the residency will generally not be permitted. Exceptions to this policy will be evaluated on an individual and based on the person’s critical role to the resident and their work.
The resident will work and live on-site at Grand Canyon National Park for the duration of their residency. Residents will be staying in the historic Verkamp's Visitor Center, overlooking Grand Canyon.
The building has a separate entrance and shares space with Grand Canyon Conservancy’s retail location. The residence is located up a flight of stairs with no elevator access. One designated outdoor parking space is assigned nearby for the residency program. The building is equipped with a kitchen, living room, private bathroom, bedroom, bedding, air conditioning, and small workspace. Please note that the kitchen does not have an oven, but an air fryer is available. Also, there is no washer or dryer at the apartment, and laundry services within the Park will need to be accessed. A small storage space is available for bikes or small equipment. The resident will need to provide their own lock. No full-sized television, computer, or streaming device is available, however, there is a small monitor and DVD player, no DVDs are provided.
Please note: Verkamp’s Visitor Center is a historic building located on the rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Because of this, connectivity and internet is limited and primarily supports critical retail functions. The resident will have access to the internet during their stay, but the bandwidth will only support basic internet needs such as web browsing, emails, and social media. The resident will need to plan for intermittent outages and availability. If a resident should require a certain level of bandwidth or data to support multiple devices, streaming, audio, video, etc. the resident will need to provide this at their own expense.
Applications can be submitted online through Café by September 30, 2021, and should include:
1. A statement of purpose
2. CV or resume
3. Applicant biography
4. An overview of the anticipated project
5. Samples of their work
Residents are selected through a jury of park rangers, Grand Canyon Conservancy employees, and night sky advocates and are determined based on artistic and educational merit.
We are accepting applications for three different periods in 2022. Applicants can select up to all three options. Only one astronomer will be selected for each date range. The exact arrival and departure days/times will be determined by the resident and GCC:
- April 11 to May 13, 2022
- August 1 to September 1, 2022
- November 28 to December 23, 2022
There is a $20 application fee to cover software, processing, and administrative fees. If the application fee presents an economic hardship, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before applying to discuss an economic hardship waiver.
The chosen applicant is asked to donate night-sky-inspired content, whether physical, digital, or educational, to the park and Grand Canyon Conservancy. The proposed quantity of donated content will depend on the medium and will be partly-offered by the resident in the application process, partly-negotiated with park staff based on the needs of the park. The specifics of copyright, donation process, and other legalities are outlined in the contract.
A minimum number of public presentations and outreach efforts will be determined based on the discipline of the chosen applicant. If the applicant is an artist, then at least one public presentation will be required. If the applicant is a public educator, then proposals for virtual outreach or staff training will be negotiated.
Grand Canyon National Park is located high on the Colorado Plateau, far from the lights of large cities, in the dry desert southwest. Combined with the clean air and clear skies, Grand Canyon National Park protects some of the most pristine night skies in the United States.
In 2019, Grand Canyon National Park was certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. Later that year, the park received the award for International Dark Sky Place of the Year. These distinctions were the culmination of a long history of night sky appreciation at Grand Canyon National Park.
The Astronomer in Residence program is made possible because of support and grants from Grand Canyon Conservancy. Donations to this program will help fund future residents and educational programming around Grand Canyon's dark skies.
Dr. Tyler Nordgren is a professional astronomer and artist. He holds a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Cornell University, where he did work on dark matter, as well as a B.A. in Physics from Reed College. For over a decade, he has worked with the National Park Service to turn the national parks into the single largest source for public science and astronomy education in the world. His popular science book “Stars Above, Earth Below: A guide to astronomy in the national parks,” reveals what visitors to America’s national parks can observe in their dark night skies. The color illustrations in this book include both his night sky photography as well as vintage-style “travel posters” he designed to help the public learn about and see the astronomical wonders in the sky.
As Grand Canyon's first Astronomer in Residence, Tyler spent his time at the canyon interacting with visitors, photographing and illustrating the night sky, and sharing tips for experiencing the park after dark. See below for links to content from his residency:
When asked about his residency, Tyler shared “Grand Canyon is the perfect place for an Astronomer in Residence: from the overlook out front of where I’m staying I see beautiful darkness both beneath and above me. The speed of light means as I look out into space above the horizon I am gazing back in time to the origin of the universe while beneath the horizon I see back in time halfway to the origin of the Earth. Sharing this view of space and time with visitors is no harder than simply stepping out of the way and letting them see it with their own eyes. You can’t miss it.”
For more information about Tyler, visit tylernordgren.com.
Watch the recording of our live interview with Tyler from July 1, 2021.