Requesting a Private Star Party Workshop

Beginning a night of observing in the Badlands.

The Black Hills Astronomical Society has as one of its missions the dissemination of scientific knowledge concerning astronomy. To further this mission, BHAS offers free public “star party workshops” (i.e. star parties, observing sessions, etc.) at our Hidden Valley Observatory on selected evenings during the summer, as well as during special astronomical events. For a fee, a private star party for a group may also be possible at our observatory or at other locations.


Private Workshop Fees

  • For events at Hidden Valley Observatory:

One to six people$50.00
Seven to 35 people$50 for first six people, $5 per additional attendee up to 35 attendees.
36+ peoplePlease contact us

  • For events at a venue other than Hidden Valley Observatory please contact us.


Public Outreach: Venus Transit at The Journey Museum.

Cancellation: The fee may be paid at the start of the workshop. However, if the requesting party cancels the workshop with less than 24 hours notice the fee is still due.

To request a private star party workshop:

  1. Please submit this form to request your date be reserved. All scheduling is done by the Observatory Director and requests are considered on a first come first served basis. Response is usually within one to three days.
  2. Once dates are agreed upon and a confirmation email is received from the Director, the fee may be paid the night of the event, payable to BHAS.


Scheduling considerations: The proposed date(s) and time of the workshop should be selected with the reality of astronomical observations in mind. Nights when the Moon is full, or near full, are to be avoided as its light washes out a majority of the deep sky objects of interest. Outdoor activities are always subject to the possibility of adverse weather. Having an alternative date or program is a good idea as a successful workshop requires that weather conditions be mostly clear.


Locations away from the observatory:  If a star party is requested for a location other than

A star party workshop, far away from city lights.

Hidden Valley Observatory, please keep the following considerations in mind.  The viewing area should not be exposed to nearby lighting unless the lights can be, and will be, turned off. This also means that a location swept by the headlights of passing vehicles is not acceptable. The selected location must have a clear view of the sky, and an adequate area of flat ground to accommodate the participants and the required telescopes. Liability for any injuries or property damage at a location not under the control of the Society cannot be assumed by the Society. If young children are participating a sufficient number of adults must be provided for their supervision and to ensure their safety.


Learning about telescopes at Hidden Valley Observatory.

It’s important to note Star Party Workshops rely not only on BHAS members donating their time, expertise, and the use of their expensive equipment, but also includes equipment belonging to the Society as well as Hidden Valley Observatory, itself. To help offset observatory maintenance and equipment costs, the Society requests a modest donation for private workshops. Any additional donation to the Society is gratefully accepted, as is any form of public acknowledgement of our efforts.

The Black Hills Astronomical Society is a non profit, all volunteer organization, none of whom receive payment for their time or use of their equipment. As such, we are limited in the number of events that can be accommodated per season.

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