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10 June 2019
Jupiter Closest to Earth for the Year

– NASA’s Juno Mission image of Jupiter

17 – 18 June 2019
Close Conjunction of the Planets Mercury and Mars

21 June 2019The Summer Solstice

Upcoming Public Star Gazes

Continue to check this home page as weather 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 by Alan Davis, taken from the grounds of Grassland Mountain Observatory)

28 June 2019 – Friday night – The location for this star gaze will be the Mt. Pisgah trailhead parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a weather backup date of Saturday, 29 June. This event is free and open to the general public — registration is not necessary to attend.  Directions to the Mt. Pisgah trailhead parking lot can be found here. Sunset occurs at 8:50 p.m.

5 July 2019 – Friday night – The site for this star gaze will be a return to Grassland Mountain Observatory in Madison County, with a weather backup night of Saturday, 6 July. This event is free and open to the general public — registration is not necessary to attend. A temporary gate code, required for entry, will be provided on the day of the star gaze by 5:00 p.m. Directions to Grassland Mountain Observatory can be found here. Sunset occurs at 8:49 p.m.

4 July 2019Earth Farthest from the Sun for the Year

9 July 2019Saturn Closest to Earth for the Year

– NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft image

1 August 2019 – Next Club Meeting

Thursday night, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – In the Reuter Center‘s Manheimer Room, located on the UNC Asheville campus. The meeting is free and open to the general public.

“Beyond Pluto: the New Horizons Mission to Ultima Thule” – presented by Steven J. Conard, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sped past Pluto in July 2015, offering unprecedented (and unexpected) views of the strange dwarf planet, its mission was considered an unparalleled success. As the spacecraft continued into the far reaches of our solar system, scientists were cautiously hopeful that the mission could be extended to explore an object in the Kuiper Belt, the distant region located one billion miles past Neptune’s orbit that contains comets, asteroids and other small icy bodies.

The mission’s new target did not disappoint; on New Year’s Day 2019, 13 years after the spacecraft’s launch, New Horizons had its closest encounter with Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69, nicknamed “Ultima Thule“, the most distant – and quite possibly the oddest – object ever explored. Read more…