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Desert Astronomer

The star-filled night sky has held the fascination of humans for thousands of years. Entire volumes on astronomy, astrology, and mythology have been written based on what we see when we look up and out into space. For those seeking to learn more about what's above and around our planet, BOSS has created the 7-Day Desert Astronomer.

About the Course

The BOSS Desert Astronomer course focuses on nighttime in the high desert and, specifically, on the stars and other celestial bodies above us. We will learn the mechanics of the solar system and celestial sphere as well as the mythology and practical uses of the stars as developed by various world cultures. Throughout the course, we will also take some simple day hikes to learn the basic geology, plants and animals of the area as well as getting an introduction to (or review of) the core BOSS survival skills of fire, water, and shelter. Each student will be given the opportunity to learn how to identify the stars that you see and the different constellations visible at various times of the year. The final night of the course will involve a short group walk to enjoy the night and put our newly learned skills to use.

We created this Explorer course specifically to help students gain more familiarity with the night sky and to appreciate the practical benefits of knowing its constellations, stories, and magic.

Course Content

The course will begin with a thorough lesson on the relationship and movement of celestial bodies. This will lay the foundation for finding, identifying, and using the objects we see in the night sky. We will cover methods for locating celestial objects, then move on to identifying the generally recognized constellations of today. The visible constellations change throughout the year so we'll focus on those constellations visible at the time of the class, but provide the skills to find and identify objects at any time of year at any location. We will blend this technical perspective with the mythological interpretations of the constellations, beginning with Greek and Roman stories, then branching out to other cultures from around the world. We'll also learn how the day and night skies blended with and influenced the daily lives of traditional civilizations.

And, as you'd expect from BOSS, we will also be teaching the primitive skills needed to be comfortable in the wilderness around us: fire construction, shelter construction, water procurement and purification, and other skills relevant to the experience.

About BOSS

Since 1968, BOSS courses have set the standard for low-technology camping and desert hiking techniques, where instruction is conducted with minimal intrusion of modern technology in environments that allow course content to be experienced first-hand. Our commitment to quality and to our core philosophies has earned BOSS its reputation as the survival school to go to when you want to learn from the best in the industry.

Less is More

In line with the BOSS Positive Impact Camping philosophy, the Desert Astronomer course has a decided emphasis on using renewable, natural resources. Tents, sleeping bags, stoves, backpacks and many other "required" pieces of outdoor equipment are replaced with their low-tech counterparts: a poncho, a blanket, a campfire. The motto here is "Know more, Carry less" and we'll explore how traditional cultures lived comfortably without all the modern gadgets like watches, radios, cellphones, etc (which are not allowed). Come learn how back-country travel can be a less intrusive and more harmonious experience.

Course Location

This course will occur in the canyons and on the mesas surrounding Boulder, Utah, where students will learn traditional living skills and the arts of stargazing.

Note: While we would VERY much like to have clear night skies for our stargazing lessons, that simply cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, while we will pray for Mother Nature's cooperation, BOSS will have alternate plans in place (books, star charts, etc.) to make the best of cloudy night skies. Students should be flexible in this regard and be willing to work with us given the local weather patterns during our coursetime.

Learning by Doing

At BOSS, we strongly believe in learning by doing. While at times, instruction will be done in lecture format, it will be done in the field where students can see what they are learning in situ and can practice their skills in a natural environment. BOSS course enrollment is designed to provide each course with a student-teacher ratio conducive to hands-on instruction. Our courses typically have 9-12 students and 3 staff. This ensures that our staff are available to students to help guide them through the lessons as needed or sought.

Health and Safety

BOSS requires that all Explorer course applicants undergo a complete physical examination and receive their physician's approval in writing prior to final acceptance on the course.

Please keep in mind, despite your physician's approval and BOSS's acceptance of you on the course, there are no guarantees.  Health and participation risks (inherent and otherwise) remain. It's up to you and your physician to determine if a BOSS course is an appropriate choice. All participants must be aware of these risks and embrace them. For more information, please select "Learn More" under Health and Safety in the column to the right.


The key to a successful course is a student's maturity and his or her interest in learning in a skills-intensive environment. Students younger than 18 must be physically and mentally mature enough to handle a course of this nature, and must also come with a parent or guardian.

Food and Diet

All students are provided with BOSS food packs that provide a student with approximately 1500-2000 calories per day — enough to keep you healthy and active for the duration of the course. Students who wish to supplement their diet with wild edibles may do so in a responsible manner and only with instructor permission. Students with allergies or dietary restrictions should contact our office. For more information, please select "Learn More" under Food and Diet in the column to the right.

Dates and Prices

Course dates, prices, and availability are listed to the right, at the top of the page.  You can also download our complete course calendar in Adobe Acrobat PDF by clicking here. If you have any questions, please submit them via the Contact BOSS page or call us at 800.335.7404 or 435.335.7404.