Space is the place

For most of the year, the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, nestled 30 miles south of Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest, concerns itself with scientific duties.

Smiling at the stars: A specially decorated radio telescope dish at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, which holds its annual Space Day open house Saturday, May 3. Photo courtesy PARI

Except for Space Day.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, the entire campus, including the inflatable planetarium, enormous telescopes and the institute-built scale model of the solar system—will be open to visitors of all ages.

“We’d love to be open to the public every day, but we just don’t have the staff,” PARI spokesperson John Avant tells Xpress. “This is the day when anyone can come see the premises [and] have some fun. It’s good for all ages, from the very young to the old. These are the only telescopes like this in the area—most people have only seen them in the movies.”

Other highlights of Space Day include a new model of the earth’s air currents, details about the history of the site (originally a NASA satellite-tracking facility and then a top-secret National Security Agency listening post), and radio-astronomy presentations from students in the institute’s Space Science Program.

For directions and more details, visit


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One thought on “Space is the place

  1. I’ll be attending… worked there when it was a NASA tracking station back during the 1970s, part of STADAN (Satellite and Data Acquisition Network). Among other things, we were backup communications for the Apollo moon missions. Those were heady days. … Look forward to seeing how things have changed. I suspect the smiley face on the 85′ foot dish antenna is kinda a hint. ;-)

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