Great Basin Observatory

Construction of the Great Basin Observatory is finished, and "First Light" was celebrated on August 25, 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service! Located in Great Basin National Park, the GBO is the first research-grade observatory in any national park. The GBO is now gearing up to enable world-class fundamental research, create opportunities for student and scientists, and bring the beauty of the cosmos to people everywhere. To stay up to date on what's happening with the GBO now that it is up and running, please visit our Facebook page:

With some of the darkest and clearest night skies in the contiguous United States, Great Basin National Park is an ideal location for an astronomical observatory. A telescope located here can be smaller—and much less expensive—than other research telescopes, making the project a very effective investment. We are grateful for the generous donations of nearly 100 individuals and organizations that helped us to reach our initial fundraising goal. But we aren't done yet! The GBO will require funds to develop and implement an outreach program for K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate students, and life-long learners. If you are passionate about Education and promoting STEM curriculum, please consider making a donation to the Great Basin Observatory!


Why here?
What are the Project's Goals?
When do we start?
How can I help?

Explore the Dark Skies of the Park

Video courtesy of Great Basin National Park, National Park Services


Why Here?

Astronomers seek out the darkest and clearest night skies to allow them to search deep into the universe. Great Basin National Park has some of the darkest night skies in the contiguous United States. An observatory sited in Great Basin National Park will further bolster long term protection of the increasingly rare resource of dark night skies and bring the wonders of the cosmos to Park visitors and students.


What are the Project's Goals?

The Great Basin Observatory will enable researchers to explore fundamental questions about our universe. Its flexible design will allow us to meet a wide variety of research goals and adapt to changes in the field of astronomy. The ability to control the telescope remotely will allow students and researchers from all over the globe to participate in important astronomical observations. With this telescope, we will:

  1. Explore fundamental questions about our universe
  2. Network with observatories around the world
  3. Discover Earth-like planets, black holes and gamma ray bursts
  4. Open doors for scientific study to students at all levels
  5. Witness rare events such as supernovae in real time
  6. Share the wonders of the cosmos with Park and On-Line Visitors

The Observatory’s success can be measured in quantities and values of the research projects it enables, the growth in student numbers and classes in the field of astronomy in Nevada, and the quality of the results students produce. Teachers of K-12 students will be asked to evaluate the results in their classrooms and submit their evaluations.

Park visitors use Solar telescope for daytime astronomy at the Great Basin National Park.


Your entire donation will be going to the Great Basin Observatory Fund. The Great Basin Foundation is grateful for the assistance of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada for managing our fund.

The Great Basin Observatory Fund is a component fund of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. The Community Fund of Western Nevada is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization established in Nevada to strengthen communities in the region through philanthropy. Your donation may qualify as a federally recognized tax deduction.

“Now we will be able to bring the brightest stars right into the classroom by combining our precious clear skies with the most advanced, remote controlled telescope on the planet.”

 U.S. Senator Richard Bryan, State of Nevada


When do we start?

Construction of the Great Basin Observatory is now finished, and the "First LIght" was celebrated on August 25, 2016 along with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The Observatory embodies one of the key National Park Service initiatives for its next century: to protect, interpret, and learn from pristine natural resources, especially dark night skies. The GBO is currently in the initial operations stage, with Project Manager Paul Gardner testing the equipment and the remote operations software. 


How can I help?

We are so thankful for the nearly 100 donations received, ranging from $5 to $200,000 from individuals and foundations. To date, we have raised over $800,000 which has enabled us to build the GBO and fund equipment requested by our team of scientists. Moving forward, we still need your support so that we can develop the "Reach for the Stars" K-12l education and outreach program and ensure the GBO will be able to operate well into the future.

“This location is one of the best remaining undeveloped sites for observing the sky in the United States. We look forward to establishing an undergraduate major in astrophysics and expanding graduate research opportunities.”

Dr. David Bennum, Physicist, University of Nevada, Reno