Press your spaceface close to mine

Perched beside the headwaters of the ancient French Broad River, outside the tiny town of Rosman, near Brevard, there is a magic window. Peering through it, you can look back through time all the way to the beginning of things, back when the universe was new and humans weren’t here at all. Further, even, to a time when here wasn’t here, when our solar system hadn’t coalesced and when the sun and the earth were only some sort of remote possibility.

Satellites of love: Meet “Smiley,” just one of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Center’s advanced instruments, at Space Day this Saturday, May 5.

That might sound trippy, but it’s the scientific truth. The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute’s 200-acre, 30-building campus is home to seven optical and four radio telescopes (including two 26 meter-diameter dishes), advanced earth-science instruments and a planetarium. Formerly a NASA tracking station and a National Security Agency spy base, today PARI is a privately owned research center with a fulltime staff and educational programs than run from kindergarten through the post-graduate level.

The general public is invited to visit PARI for its annual Space Day open house this Saturday, May 5. David Clavier, the facility’s vice president of administration and development, says that “ultimately, we plan to be able to host the visiting public at any time, but currently we are not staffed or equipped to do that.” Translation: Space Day is your once-a-year chance to step up to the magic window and have a look-see.

During the free, day-long event, the planetarium will feature “Stars of My People,” described as “a journey through the night sky featuring the stories and myths associated with prominent visible objects by Native Americans, African, Chinese, Mayan and Australian Bushmen cultures.” There will be activities and events for visitors of all ages, and food and beverages will be available for purchase in the PARI cafeteria.

For more information and directions to the facility, visit or call 862-5554.


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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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