Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a star gazing event on Saturday, April 28 at one of Haywood County's clearest views of the sky - Purchase Knob, home to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Astronomy Club of Asheville will lead an exploration of the night sky at this high elevation site with a 260 degree unobstructed view of the sky. Visitors can expect to see the 1st quarter moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, which have been so bright in the night sky in recent weeks.
"National Park areas often offer a wonderful opportunity to stargaze," says park superintendent, Dale Ditmanson. "Visitors are often amazed at the amount of stars that can be seen simply by venturing out of the well-lit communities and into the natural darkness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. National Parks across the country have begun to monitor and manage for natural night sky conditions in much the same way as we would to protect our air and water."
The event starts at 8:00 pm with an orientation at sunset. The Learning Center is located at 5,000 feet in elevation so please bring warm layers.
Reservations are required and can be made by calling the park directly. Purchase Knob is located off US 276 near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It is not recommended to use a GPS or an internet map service to find Purchase Knob but the park staff can provide reliable directions. Please call (828) 926-6251 for both directions and reservations.
This star gazing event is being held in conjunction with the North Carolina Science Festival, a series of events promoting the wonders of science throughout the state from April 13-29, 2012. Please visit http://www.ncsciencefestival.org/ for a complete list of events.