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Grand Canyon Conservancy's (GCC) Astronomer-in-Residence program supports astronomers and dark-sky advocates from various disciplines that wish to engage with the night skies of Grand Canyon and build connections with the community by sharing their expertise, instruments, and passion with the park's public.
Astronomers, both professional and amateur, scientists from ecologists to geologists, dark-sky advocates, educators, writers, and other practitioners with expertise in the night sky are encouraged to apply. We prioritize local Indigenous storytellers who focus on the night sky, and other night sky practitioners from marginalized communities across the United States and beyond.
Selected astronomers live and work at the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona for up to six weeks in a private one-bedroom apartment above the historic Verkamp's Visitor Center overlooking the Canyon. In addition to free live/workspace, a modest stipend is offered to offset the costs of travel, food, and supplies. Residents have first-hand access to the natural beauty of Grand Canyon National Park, park leadership, staff expertise, on-site resources, archives, and visitors from around the world.
Dr. Cameron Hummels is a computational astrophysicist at Caltech. His research uses supercomputers to simulate how galaxies like our own Milky Way form and evolve over billions of years. In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Hummels acts as Director of Astronomy Outreach at Caltech, organizing dozens of public education events each year all around California including public lectures, stargazing activities, "Astronomy on Tap" events with science talks at local pubs, astronomy talks in Spanish and Mandarin, Dark Sky Festivals, and more. He has acted as the technical advisor for three upcoming feature-length films set in space.
Dr. Hummels is passionate about the outdoors, having thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019, and having recently set the record for fastest hike across Death Valley in 2022. Dr. Hummels attended Pomona College for his undergraduate studies and later earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2012. Prior to his position at Caltech, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona.
As a professional scientist and science communicator, Dr. Hummels will focus his time at Grand Canyon on engaging visitors in science education. He plans to host a series of live presentations, including: “Understanding the Formation and Evolution of Galaxies;” “Black Holes;” “Space Exploration;” “Meteor Showers and the Birth of the Solar System;” “Understanding Our Moon;” “The Search for Life in the Universe;” and “The Science of Star Wars.”
Join Dr. Hummels at the South Rim Visitor Center Theatre for the following public programs:
10/5 @ 7pm - The Science of Black Holes
10/6 @ 7pm - Understanding the Formation and Evolution of Galaxies
10/19 @ 7pm - Asteroids, Meteors, and The Birth of the Solar System
10/20 @ 7pm - Lunar Frontiers: Understanding our Nearest Neighbor
Dr. Hummels will be giving programs on the North Rim 10/9, 10/10, and 10/11. Evening astronomy presentations will begin at 7:00pm inside the North Rim Lodge followed by outdoor constellation talks and telescope viewing.
March 8 – April 19: Dr. Jennifer Hoffman
May 1 – June 1: Kevin Schindler
September 30 – November 11: Dr. Cameron Hummels
2024 Application Process:
May 15 – July 31: Applications Open for 2024
August 1 – 22: Peer Review
August 27 – September 8: Final Selection Meetings
September 11 – 15: Applicants Notified for 2024
The program is similar to the Artist in Residence Programs hosted by various national parks throughout the country. However, the Astronomer in Residence program accepts dark sky advocates and astronomy educators from a variety of disciplines with the intention of expanding public awareness of night skies, astronomy, and the various disciplines studying natural darkness.
Annually, a review panel of peer professionals selects 3-4 astronomers to live and work at the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona for up to six weeks in a private one-bedroom apartment above the historic Verkamp's Visitor Center. In addition to free live/workspace, a weekly stipend of approximately $400 is offered to offset the costs of travel, food, and supplies. Residents have first-hand access to the natural beauty of Grand Canyon National Park, park leadership, staff expertise, on-site resources, archives, and visitors from around the world.
Each resident lives and works in a private one-bedroom apartment above Verkamp’s Visitor Center overlooking the Canyon. The apartment has semi-private access with many of the amenities of a traditional living space, including a full-size kitchen (no oven) with appliances, living room, bedroom (queen-sized bed), bathroom (shower & tub), one large workspace, and two smaller rooms. There is heating/cooling, one parking spot, ample internet, linens, and a VCR. Laundry facilities are available in the park. The apartment is in a historic building and as a result, is not wheelchair accessible, does not allow for easy temperature adjustments, and suffers from sound-bleed during open store hours. That said, the space is ample and many residents enjoy being able to see the Canyon from their windows. Resident guests are considered on a case-by-case basis and may be allowed with prior written approval by GCC staff.
Applications can be submitted online through Café by 7/31/23 and should include:
Brief Bio (200 words max)
CV or resume (upload)
Astronomer Statement or Teaching Philosophy (optional upload)
Documentation of astronomy-based work. Samples that detail your work with the public are encouraged. Three - five (3-5) images, pages, and/or minutes of media with titles, dates, medium, and descriptions of work.
Press / Media: Articles, publications, relevant media (optional upload)
Donation receipt (more info below)
Responses to the following questions:
- How does your work advocate for dark skies? (100 words maximum)
- Please provide a brief marketing description of 4 different public programs you'd like to provide while on site, including a title and a 1-2 sentence description of each (maximum 75 words per program description with title).
- Please briefly describe a project you will work on while on-site that creatively connects people emotionally and intellectually with the Grand Canyon. (200 words max)
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.
Instead of an application fee, we ask that you give a gift in any amount to the Astronomer in Residence program. While you will be asked to include proof of your gift in the application, your donation amount will not be shared with the review panel or relevant to the decision-making process.
Selected astronomers are asked to provide:
2-3 public programs per week in their area of expertise (Please note: One can expect up to three hundred people per program depending on the program offering and time of year.)
One community event. This could include a program, workshop, or presentation for Grand Canyon School (K-12), GRCA National Park Service staff, Lowell Observatory visitors (Flagstaff), or others. Grand Canyon staff can work with you to shape this event.
The development and/or implementation of a creative project that fosters emotional and intellectual ties to the Grand Canyon's night skies. Please review our alumni pages for examples of projects pursued in the past.
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 to Grand Canyon Conservancy. Donations to this program will help fund future astronomers’ work in residency as they celebrate and preserve Grand Canyon's dark skies.