Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area is 26 miles (42 km) southwest of Valentine, Nebraska, close to the northern border of the state. It’s the site of the Nebraska Star Party (www.nebraskastarparty.org), held each summer. It has some of the darkest skies in the U.S. Camping is allowed. The website explains, “Merritt Reservoir is maintained by the Nebraska State Game & Parks Commission. The Nebraska Sandhills are a geologically unique feature. They consist primarily of ancient sand dunes now covered by a thin layer of soil and grass … The primary industries are beef and buffalo ranching, recreation and tourism, and (now) astronomy.”
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.