Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a stargazing event on Friday, May 31 at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center in North Carolina. Located on Purchase Knob at 5,000 feet in elevation, the learning center provides one of the clearest views of the sky from the Haywood County region of the 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 many celestial wonders including star clusters, binary star systems, and other galaxies.
“National Park areas offer a wonderful opportunity to stargaze,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “National Parks across the country monitor and manage for natural night sky conditions in much the same way as we would to protect our air and water. Visitors are often amazed at the amount of stars that can be seen simply by entering into the natural darkness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
The event starts at 8:00 p.m. with an indoor presentation of what can be seen in the nighttime skies during May. This presentation will be held rain or shine. The learning center is located at 5,000 feet in elevation so visitors should bring warm layers. The program is free, but participation is limited by parking availability. Participants must register in advance to reserve one of the 44 parking permits. Reservations can be made by registering through Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.com/o/astronomy-club-of-asheville-20250065100) or by calling 828-497-1907.
For more information about stargazing in the park, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/dff509-focuspartner1.htm.