Public Access

We hold monthly Public Nights at the 32-inch telescope and attached Jo & Don Cline Visitor Center

Our next Evening at DSO event will be Saturday, March 25th. Ticketing is found at our Webconnex ticketing page by clicking here.

 

 The dates are chose based on a number of factors that change every month, including the Moon's phase, availability of planets, special astronomical events, and the schedules of the staff and student helpers.  You can also get announcements of events by searching for Dark Sky Observatory on Facebook and Liking us.  We sometimes email those who have registered at our Webconnex page, a separate action which is not necessary for getting tickets.

Finding your way to DSO

The easiest way to find DSO is to Google "Observatory Rd Wilkes County NC" and the resulting map will show our road and allow you to Get Directions from where you live.  You may want to print the Reverse Route Directions to get you back home afterward. A map and directions are also available linked near the bottom of this page ("ATTACHMENT"), and temporary signs are put up starting at the intersection of Phillips Gap Rd and the Parkway.  You should try to arrvie in the 15-minute time window before your scheduled session (it is a ~30 minute trip from Boone).  The evening begins with a brief PowerPoint explaining the celestial targets for the night.

Once at DSO follow the road past the Lowe's House on the left and the first cluster of several domes, through the woods about 1,000 ft to the 32-inch telescope dome and attached Jo and Don Cline Visitor Center.  Park in the cleared area as best as possible--the concrete pad is for handicapped parking, only. We will scan tickets that you should print at home, but will have a Will Call list for those who cannot print their tickets.

While at the Observatory and Visitor Center

Please note that there is minimal paving so you should wear comfortable shoes with low heels.  Of course, observatories have little outside lighting to preserve the dark sky, so you may want to bring a flashlight.  Observatory domes are not heated since doing so would ruin the astronomical seeing quality, so you should dress appropriately.  The attached Cline Visitor Center is heated and you can wait there before and after viewing different celestial objects.  There are restrooms in the Center, and a water fountain, and a limited amount of seating.  There is NO SMOKING on Observatory grounds or in the buildings, due to fire danger and potential harm to optics.

The event is ticked and you must get tickets online to attend.  There will also be an opportunity to make cash or check donations. There is also a "Give Now" link you can click online on any of our web pages to donate.  We have s a few souvenirs available for purchase, including DSO logoed mugs, hats, mouse pads, bumper stickers, and artistic posters.  We accept cash or credit/debit cards.

Observing at the Telescope

The telescope will be pointed at a few different objects during the session you are signed up for, and rotated back through those as time allows during the evening.  This will allow each attendee to see a few objects during the session, but of course there will be time spent waiting for others to view so you should be prepared to wait.  FOR THE SAFETY OF ALL, PARENTS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO MANAGE CHILDREN BETWEEN VIEWING OBJECTS. We may have an assistant showing constellations and other naked-eye visible celestial objects outside the dome, and astronomers to discuss the cosmos with you.

The Jo and Don Cline Visitor Center has a gallery where displays will introduce you to the kinds of astronomical research we do at DSO, and the instrumentation used in our work (we do not yet have these exhibits!). Guests will be able to look into the control room where the astronomers and their students control the telescope and display images acquired through its optics and CCD camera.

The Center was originally designed by Jekins-Peer (Charlotte), with additional design work done by United Engineering (Charlotte) and Harley-Ellis (Asheville).

View Jo and Don Cline Visitor Center photos.

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Directions and map to DSO (pdf)247.58 KB