Reach for the stars at an evening of stargazing in the dark skies of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville. Here are some options:
PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute) is a must see for star and space lovers (photo above). This former NASA center is deep in Pisgah National Forest away from light pollution - it is now a non-profit research and education center. During the day, tour the campus that includes NASA space artifacts and even a collection of meteorites. Talk to scientists and researchers who travel from around the world to utilize their impressive facilities. They host star gazing on several Friday and Saturday nights through the year with a specially built observation deck high on a ridge. Reserve in advance. Also ask about special experiences or tours. Read more about PARI.
The Astronomy Club of Asheville is non-profit educational organization welcomes visitors at all levels of interest and experience. Members with telescopes like to share with friendly visitors at two observatories:
Astronomy Club star gazes are usually scheduled twice per month on the Friday nights that occur near the last quarter and new moons (excluding holidays). They are held at one of the observatories or at a mountain lookout (often along the Blue Ridge Parkway) and book up quickly. Should Friday night be clouded out, they meet the next night (Saturday) as back-up. Go to their website for locations and times for upcoming star gazes. Since events are so weather dependent, the club always posts at 5 PM the day of the event with either a confirmation or cancellation. So be sure to check!
Tips for Star Gazing
For more information on star watching and membership, go to www.astroasheville.org.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The overlooks along the Parkway provide a perfect location to see the stars.
Download a star map and spot constellations, planets and distant galaxies. If you don't have a telescope, binoculars are great too!