Saturday, August 25, 2012

Star Event at Purchase Knob

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a star gazing event on Friday, September 7th 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 planets Neptune and Uranus; the wonderful starry glow of our Milky Way Galaxy stretching across Purchase Knob's dark skies; the beautiful spiral disk of the Andromeda Galaxy; the numerous star clusters of late summer and early fall; as well as several binary star systems.

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 7:30 pm with an indoor orientation, which will be held rain or shine. The Learning Center is located at 5,000 feet in elevation so please bring warm layers. The program is limited to 60 people so reservations are required and can be made by calling the park directly at (828) 926-6251.

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.

Hiking in the Smokies

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