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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. Applications for 2023 will open in the middle of 2022.
April 28 - May 23, 2022
2023 Applications Open
Summer of 2022
August 2 - 28, 2022
November 21 - December 21, 2022
As the next Grand Canyon Astronomer in Residence, biologist and landscape and nature photographer Imma Barrera will live and work at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park from April 28 to May 23, 2022.
Born in Barcelona, Barrera is based in New Jersey. She is a biologist and a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography who has exhibited her photographs in galleries worldwide. Her favorite subject to photograph is landscapes from dusk to dawn, including astrophotography. Barrera has been selected for several National Park Artist in Residence programs (Acadia National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Glacier National Park) for her night sky photography. In addition, she was shortlisted in the Landscape category of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/Professional Competition with her series “Under the Night Sky.” One of her night photographs was selected by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to represent the One Big Sky fundraising campaign and as cover for their 2020 calendar. Barrera also runs educational programs about photography and seminars to raise awareness about the need to protect our natural treasures.
“As a biologist, photographer, and conservationist, I feel uniquely positioned to capture the world that surrounds us and to use my images to educate others as to why preserving these ecosystems is critical for the health of our planet. My mission is to showcase the wonders of the night sky in our light-saturated world and inspire others to help preserve darkness and the night environment,” said Barrera.
Listen to Dean Regas's Podcast episode "Looking Up: Astronomical Observance From the Grand Canyon (Featuring Tyler Nordgren)" to hear about Tyler's experience at Grand Canyon National Park.
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. 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 $1,500 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 the designated due date, 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.
Applications for 2023 will open in mid-2022.
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.
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