North Carolina Observatories
Did the thought of visiting and having fun in an observatory ever
cross your mind? While geekiness may prevail in the idea of observing
different terrestrial and celestial bodies, learning new things will
always be an enjoyable experience. Remember knowledge on meteors, stars
and everything on the atmosphere isn't exclusive for astronomers and
meteorologists and other related scientists alone. Here are some of the
observatories in North Carolina.
Located atop the Morehead Planetarium in the University of North
Carolina at the Chapel Hill is the Morehead Observatory. It features a
24-inch Perkin Elmer Telescope, a reflecting telescope donated by the
John Motley Morehead Foundation. The location is good enough to showcase
clear skies that enable students to obtain data for their research.
Morehead supports researches about bright star spectroscopy and optical
counterparts of Gamma Ray Bursts. The Observatory is also open to the
public every Friday evenings, inviting interested to take part in an
astronomy presentation hosted by astronomy faculty members and graduate
students. The program allows visitors to tour around the observatory and
to ask questions and observe the moon, stars and planets directly
through the telescope.
Located in Rosman in Transylvania County is the Pisgah Astronomical
Research Institute (PARI), a non-profit foundation that provides
educational and research opportunities that dwell in the disciplines of
science and technology, engineering and math. It features a NASA
facility, the Rosman Satellite Tracking Station that is used for
tracking manned and unmanned space flights during the 1960s and 1970s.
To date, PARI has a number of telescopes devoted for radio astronomy
(PARI JOVE Antenna, Virginia Tech Eight meter Transient Array, Meteor
Reflections and more), optical observation (SPACE Observatory, Solar
telescopes, West Optical Observatory and more) and earth sciences
(Cosmic Ray monitor, Plate Boundary Observatory, weather stations and
more). Guests can pay a visit and learn more about these instruments
every second Friday of the month with the Evening at PARI program.
The program includes a tour of the institute, discussions on the
recent advancements in astronomy, and the viewing of celestial bodies in
their optical telescopes. PARI also welcome scheduled public tours on
Wednesdays. The Space Day, an annual open house, is also held. For those who are just looking for a basic background in astronomy
should go to Lucile Miller Observatory at Maiden High School, the first
and only high school observatory in North Carolina. The observatory is
part of the Catawba County School System, providing programs and events
for people, not only for the youth and the academe, who have the
interest to learn more about astronomy on its basic sense. They have a
wide collection of telescope including "Hermann's Monster", a Newtonian
Reflecting telescope and is the fourth largest amateur telescope in
North Carolina, "Jagers 6 inch", a refractor best used for viewing
nebulae and galaxies and a lot more. They don't charge on their
presentations and they also offer travel arrangements for seminars
outside the county.