news and events

 Upcoming Public Star Gazes

Spencer 3Continue to check this home page posting as weather and road conditions could change the venue or postpone and possibly cancel a star gaze. Check-in again after 5:00 p.m. on the afternoon of the observing session for the latest info and update.
 (Image credit: Spencer Black, taken at Grassland Mountain Observatory)

Friday – August 26, 5:00 p.m. update: Weather condition will allow tonight’s star gaze at Lookout Observatory to proceed.


26 August 2016 – Friday night – The location for this star gaze is Lookout Observatory on the UNC Asheville campus. The weather backup night is Saturday, August 27th. This event is free and open to the general public. Registration is now full, however you may join a waiting list here to be notified of availability. There is no public parking at the observatory, but shuttles are available to and from the observatory from parking lot P10 (the Reuter Center)  on the north (top) end of this campus map. Sunset occurs at 8:05 p.m., with shuttle service beginning at 8:30 p.m.

2 September 2016 – Friday night – The location for this star gaze will be Grassland Mountain Observatory in Madison County, with a weather backup night of Saturday, September 3rd.  The event is free and open to the general public — registration is not necessary to attend.  A temporary gate code, required for entry, will be posted on this website at approximately 5:00 p.m. on the day of the star gaze.  Directions to Grassland Mountain Observatory can be found here.  Sunset occurs at 7:55 p.m.

Venus-Jupiter-27Aug2016_f27 August 2016 – A Very Close Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus.  Find out more…

Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope

1 September 2016 – Next Club Meeting

Thursday night, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – In the Manheimer Room at the lower level of the Reuter Center on the UNC Asheville campus

Young Solar Analogs Cropped September 2016“The Young Solar Analogs Project: How did a violent, young Sun affect the development of life on Earth?”
  — Presented by Richard O. Gray, Appalachian State University

The earliest geological records indicate that life first developed on our planet 3.8 Gyr ago, or perhaps even earlier.  At that time the Sun was a dangerous star to be around — its X-ray and far-ultraviolet fluxes were many times that of today; it varied by up to 5% in its optical output, which would cause climate chaos today; and it produced frequent and powerful flares.

While the early Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field would have offered some degree of protection from high-energy radiation and particles, the lack of an ozone layer meant that the surface of the earth would have been exposed to orders of magnitude higher fluxes of biologically damaging near-UV (UV-B and UV-C) radiation than at present, effectively sterilizing the surface of the planet. Read more…

8 & 9 Sept. 2016 – Conjunction of the Moon with Saturn and Mars

9 September 2016 – Purchase Knob Star Gaze

GSMNP sunriseFriday night – Star Gaze in the GSMNP – Presented in partnership with the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center, the Astronomy Club of Asheville is returning to spectacular Purchase Knob in the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to experience a star gaze in this beautiful setting. Directions to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob can be found here.

While this event is free and open to the general public, registration is required to attend. For information on how to register, call the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at (828) 926-6251 or email Susan Sachs at susan_sachs@nps.gov. Arrive before dark and enjoy the views and an indoor presentation on the September night skies. There is no backup night for this star gaze. Sunset occurs at 7:45 p.m.

September 2016 Equinox22 Sept. 2016 – The Autumnal Equinox.  Find out more…