Dark Sky Observatory

Dark sky observatory is a research facility that provides faculty and students with equipment to undertake observational research in the field of astrophysics. The facility is equipped with spectrographic apparatus and telescopes. The telescopes are used for photometry and CCD imaging.

ASU Dark Sky Observatory (DSO)

This observatory was established in 1981. It is located 32 km northeast of Boone, North Carolina. It is situated far away from major cities away from lights and ideal for dark and moonless nights view. This area offers a suitable setting for spectroscopy and digital imaging for the solar system and stellar research projects.

DSO is owned and operated by Appalachian State University.  The facility is 20 miles from the campus and 9 kilometers east of Deep Gap. The observatory is used for instruction and research. It also offers public viewing events. In 2011, they opened Center for Cline Visitors.


ASU dark observatory has four telescopes

Ritchey-Chretien telescope- This 32-inch telescope is used as the primary research instrument at the observatory. The telescope was manufactured by DFM engineering.

Cassegrain Telescope- This telescope was installed in 1981. This 18 inches tool monitors eclipsing binary stars. At one time the facility used it to observe Mira variable stars.

Dean Glace Telescope- This derives its name from its donor, Astrophotographer Dean Glace. It used jointly by ASU and the Astrophotographer. The size of the telescope is 17 inches.

Schmidt Cassegrain Celestron Reflector- This remote robotic telescope measures 14 inches. It was built in 2009 by Adam Smith as a thesis project for his masters. Skynet Robotic telescope center controls it automatically in collaboration with UNC Chapel Hill. It observes optical afterglows of gamma rays bursts using automatic commands. The telescope is also used by the general public and scientists for queue scheduled observations.

A 16 inch Newton telescope donated in 1982 by ASU was removed in 2003. Similarly, a reflecting telescope was moved DSO from Ranking Science center on ASU campus in 2003 while the building was under refurbishment. The telescope was installed on the roof of Ranking center. It is used for undergraduate studies.

Bare Dar Sky Observatory 

 This observatory is located at Mayland Earth to Sky Park in Yancey County. It is named after Warren and Larissa Bare. The facility gives astronomy students with practical skills and also offers the members of the community to enjoy the spectacular view of wonders of the universe. The observatory has a 360-degree view. It is constructed on an elevation of 2736 feet.

Visitors get a lifetime opportunity to view stars, planets, and the moon. The observatory is not opened during inclement weather – rain, clouds and snow. However, the observatory management will notify you of the cancellation 36 hours in advance and give you a full refund. It is, however, worth noting that your stay at Earth to sky park and the observatory is at your own risk. Therefore in case of an incident, you will not hold Mayland Community and the Foundation responsible. Similarly, they are not liable for lost items. It is imperative that you take caution when visiting the place given its terrain is uneven.


Adult tickets cost $15 while tickets for 12 years old children and below are $5. You can also opt to go as a group by scheduling group tickets through a phone call. The group should have a maximum of 25 people. The charges are $150 per hour.

Scottish Dark Sky Observatory (SDSO)

Scottish Dark Sky Observatory was built in 2012 situated in Ayrshire. The facility sits at Galloway forest edges. The observatory offers exquisite night sky views. Located at the top of a hill, you get a stunning and experience celestial experience. On a clear night, you will see dazzling stellar appearances.

The observatory is open for publicity was the first in the UK and whole of Europe. The educational facility seeks to enable people to enjoy the night sky view without causing light pollution which hinder observations. Here you will learn more about the celestial world and astronomy.

The facility features two telescopes that provide detailed views of planetarium starts and moon. In 2017 a planetarium was constructed for viewing night sky indoors. A gargantuan number of people visit the education asset from all over the world to view the beauty of the night sky. To enjoy these amazing experiences, you simply have to pre-book the visit through the observatory website. After SDSO visit, you will appreciate the numerous career opportunities outside ACADEMIA in the field of physics, including Astronomy outreach.

Dark Sky Observatory Collective

This facility is located in Fort Davis Texas. It is situated six miles from McDonald Observatory.  

Observatories and Observatory Time- Best time To Visit an Observatory

When planning to go for celestial objects gazing, the timing is as important as the place if not more. You see, if you get the timing all wrong, there will be nothing to watch. So, when is best time to visit observatory? The perfect time is either before or soon after a new moon. Full moon or the bright night may block your sight, and hence only brightest stellar objects will be visible. In fact, you will even see the Milky Way during dark nights when there is no moon.  So avoid full moon as much as possible. Observatories have powerful telescopes. There is no harm in carrying your own telescope. If planning to buy one, ensure you know how to choose best telescope.

Enter summer. Summer has long days and short nights. This significantly reduces your gaze time. Morning and evening twilight hours are longer during summer. This is a perfect time to watch the stars during the summer. Springs autumn and winter are the best time for stargazing. Winter is the perfect season, given that it has long nights.

Winter season does not only boast of incredible observatory experience, but also most observatory events are held during this period. Observatory facilities post event calendars on their websites. You can check the astronomer forecast on weather for astronomical observation.

Essentially, winters are the best time to visit observatories because:

·         The skies are clear and less cloudy

·         You can see the Star and constellation with naked eyes

·         Longer nights

·         It is easy for eyes to adjust

·         Low humidity and fewer skies contamination

Kielder Observatory

Kielder Observatory is found in the United Kingdom. It is among the best public observatories in the country. Located in a remote area, the observatory benefits from dark skies free from light pollution. The observatory has an event every single night of the week. For the weekend you will have to make a booking well in advance. Tickets for the weekend especially during new moon always sell out. The best time to visit is September to march during the evening when the skies are dark.

Griffin Observatory

This is a popular astronomy museum and planetarium located in California. While observatory is the main reason for visitation, you also get to enjoy hiking and panoramic views. Well, some great movies were shot here, including the Terminator. As if that is not enough, there are free astronomy lectures.

You also get free parking before noon and after 10 pm. You will have to part with $8 per hour for the rest of the time. Weekends are always insanely crowded. So, you may want to visit on weekdays. Middays are less crowded. Well, you do not want observatory during midday.

ASU Dark Sky Observatory Time

Appalachian State University will be holding Dark Sky Observatory event in June 2019.  The main theme of the evening observatory will be observing. If the weather is cloudy, they will offer indoor activities including touring the facility, PowerPoint slideshow and also a chance speak to astronomers.

Since we are in the summer mode, we are experiencing late darkness. There is only one session spanning two hours, that is 9:30 -11:30 pm. The observatory time is limited to 35 tickets. You will be asked for the names of the people in your group.  There you must enter their initial and surname for every ticket you reserve.

During the event, you will be required to come with a printed paper. You will be able to print you reserve tickets on the website. Direction and preparation printed ticket on for the night will be included in the reserve ticket. Also, there will be an opportunity to make donations and buy souvenir merchandise. In case of event collection due to safety travel issues, you will be notified via email. An update will also be posted on the facebook page and the website. It is advisable that you arrive 15 minutes before the event.

McDonald Observatory

McDonald observatory draws huge crowds during the star parties – as much as 1000 people.  Of course, predicting the weather is not a walk in the park. However, if you are planning to visit the place in a week, they will have a pretty good idea of what to expect. They post the weather information on their websites. Bright and full moons limit our view of the stars. However, it provides a better view of the moon itself. Most of the start parties in McDonald Observatory fall in the spring break.

Canada Observatory

Also, you can check out the 2009 event schedule for RASC Yukon Centre and Yukon Astronomical Society for astronomy presentation, high sky gazing and dark night observatory. The observatory is located in Tahiti Hot Pools behind a hill. The spot is accessible on foot. It is five-minute walking distance from Takini Hot Pools parking lot to the observatory. The terrain is somehow steep as you ascend the hill. They offer road access to persons with disabilities.