Bare Dark Sky Observatory Opens May 25

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Bare Dark Sky Observatory Opens May 25

Observatory Features Powerful “Sam Scope”

Experience the Western North Carolina sky like never before at Mayland Community College’s Bare Dark Sky Observatory near Burnsville.

Next week, crews will begin installing a 34-inch telescope, the largest in the southeast, in preparation for the grand opening celebration May 25. Activities begin at 4 pm with Observatory tours and outdoor games. Bubba’s Good Eats will roll up to feed hungry sky watchers.

tlb_EnergyXChange4x6The Bare Dark Sky Observatory, named for Warren and Larissa Bare, is located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park (formally called the Energy Exchange) in Yancey County. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) designated the Earth to Sky Park as the first IDA certified park in the southeastern United States. The observatory will give residents an opportunity to experience the wonders of the universe, while providing Astronomy students hands-on learning. The observatory sits at an elevation of 2,736 feet and offers a 360-degree view.

The new “Sam Scope,” named in memory of Samuel Phillips, is a f/3.6 StarStructure Newtonian telescope with a 34 inch mirror. It will be the largest telescope in the Southeast in dark skies dedicated for public use for educational and public outreach activities. Funding for the telescope was provided by the Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation. In addition, Mayland Community College will also have a planetary telescope, perfect for viewing the different planets.

Because parking access to the Observatory is limited, the college will offer shuttle rides to the building for tours. Guests should wear walking shoes due to uneven terrain. Bring a flashlight if you plan on staying past dark due to limited lighting.

The rain date for the event is June 1.

Following the grand opening, the Observatory will be open by reservation and for events and classes over the summer. You can make a reservation for your group at 828-766-1233.

Ken Ulmer

Former TV weatherguy who never got it right, til the day I predicted mostly cloudy skies with a 100% chance of unemployment. I've survived stints as a morning radio host, stay-at-home dad, and lab assistant. All left me with with varying degrees of side-effects, which somehow combined to make me a good fit to be the editor/video producer of

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