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Solar Eclipse 2024: Asheville Star Gazing, Dark Sky Park, and More

Asheville eclipse observation event.

Solar Eclipse 2024: Asheville Star Gazing, Dark Sky Park, and More

View 2024’s Solar Eclipse in Asheville-Area Dark Sky Certified Park; One of the Only in NC

Asheville, a city nestled in the heart of Western North Carolina, is gearing up for a celestial event that promises to awe and inspire. While the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8 may not bring totality to Asheville, the region is preparing to offer some of the best opportunities for star gazing and celestial education.

Dark Sky Certified Park in Asheville

One of the highlights of Asheville’s celestial offerings is the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), which holds the distinction of being one of the only dark sky certified parks in North Carolina. Recognized by the International Dark Sky Association, PARI is dedicated to preserving and protecting dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.

Dark Sky Week, a global celebration of the natural night sky, will coincide with the total annular eclipse from April 2 to April 8. During this time, PARI will host three dark sky astronomy nights for amateur astronomers to explore the cosmos with their own viewing equipment.

For the solar eclipse on April 8, PARI will host a day-long event featuring eclipse education sessions, lunch, and guided museum tours. Tickets for the event start at $40 for children and $80 for adults, providing a unique opportunity to witness this celestial phenomenon.

The Eclipse Experience in Asheville

While Asheville may not be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse, observers can expect to witness approximately 87% coverage of the sun’s disk. The eclipse will begin at 1:51 p.m., reach maximum coverage at 3:09 p.m., and conclude at 4:24 p.m. It is imperative for eclipse watchers to use proper ISO rated 12,312 glasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s intense rays.

For those interested in alternative viewing methods, the American Astronomical Society provides guidelines on safely viewing the eclipse through pinhole and optical projections.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Comet Viewing Opportunity

As an added celestial bonus, Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks, also known as the “devil comet,” will be making a rare appearance in the night sky. This comet, with its distinctive horn-like emissions of dust and ice, presents a unique viewing opportunity for stargazers. The comet’s next visit is not expected until 2095, making this April a prime time to witness its celestial dance.

Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks may even make an appearance alongside the solar eclipse, adding an extra layer of cosmic wonder to the day’s events.

Upcoming Star Gazing Events in Asheville

For those eager to explore the universe beyond the eclipse and comet viewing, the Astronomy Club of Asheville, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina Asheville, will be hosting a series of star gazing events in March.

These events, taking place at various observatories in the region, offer the public free opportunities to learn more about astronomy and appreciate the beauty of the night sky. From Lookout Observatory to Grassland Mountain Observatory, these gatherings provide a chance to connect with the cosmos in a meaningful way.

Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a novice sky-watcher, these star gazing events offer a chance to glimpse the wonders of the universe and deepen your appreciation for the night sky.

Conclusion

Asheville’s upcoming solar eclipse, coupled with the rare appearance of Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks and star gazing events, promises a month filled with celestial wonders and educational opportunities. Whether you’re attending the eclipse viewing at PARI, catching a glimpse of the “devil comet,” or joining a stargazing event with the Astronomy Club of Asheville, April is shaping up to be a month to remember for celestial enthusiasts in Western North Carolina.


HERE Asheville
Author: HERE Asheville

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