Mayland Community College's Bare Dark Sky Observatory will host a grand opening on May 25 beginning at 4:00 pm. The Bare Dark Sky Observatory, named for Warren and Larissa Bare, is located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park (formally called the EnergyExchange) in Yancey County. The observatory will allow community members an opportunity to experience the wonders of the universe, while providing Astronomy students with hands-on learning. The observatory sits at an elevation of 2,736 feet and offers a 360-degree view, and houses the “Sam Scope” named in memory of Samuel Phillips. This telescope is a f/3.6 StarStructure Newtonian telescope, with a 34 inch (0.86 meter) mirror. It will be the largest telescope in the Southeast in dark skies dedicated for public use for educational and public outreach activities. Funding for the telescope was provided by the Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation. In addition, MCC also has a planetary telescope, perfect for viewing the different planets.
Beginning at 4:00pm on May 25th, the public is invited to come tour the Bare Dark Sky Observatory and see the telescopes. There will be educational videos to watch, outdoor games to play, and tours of the Earth to Sky Park available. Bubba’s Good Eats will have their food truck at the Park for visitors to enjoy some food. The ribbon cutting will take place at 7:00 pm. Because parking access to the Observatory is limited, MCC will offer shuttle rides to the building for tours. Guests are recommended to wear walking shoes as the ground is uneven, and bring a flashlight if planning on staying past dark to use the telescopes due to limited lighting from restrictions of being an International Dark Sky Association certified Park.
The rain date for the grand opening is June 1st.
Following the ribbon cutting, the Observatory will be open by reservation and for our many events over the summer. Groups are welcome to make a reservation. For upcoming Observatory events please visit www.mayland.edu/observatory