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Park Hosts Star Gazing Event at Purchase Knob

Star Gazing Event

Members of the Astronomy Club of Asheville set up a variety of scopes before a star gazing event at Purchase Knob in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NPS staff photo).

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a star gazing event at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center on Friday, May 31. Located on Purchase Knob, the learning center provides one of the clearest views of the sky in the park and Haywood County, NC.  

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 planet Saturn and a last quarter moon.    

"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 8:30 p.m. with an indoor presentation of what can be seen in the June nighttime skies, 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 park staff can provide reliable directions when visitors make reservations.


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