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Bare Dark Sky Observatory


Ticket holders are asked to check their email for event updates 36 hours prior to their viewing time for any weather updates. If stargazing outside is not possible, the event will be moved inside the Arthur Planetarium (see weather policy under terms and conditions below). With winter weather upon us, we reserve the right to cancel the event entirely due to slick, icy, or snowy conditions.

Join us for an evening of stargazing as you’ve never seen before! Depending on the time of year and the moon phase, visitors will be able to view the moon, planets, and stars through our 34″ diameter mirror on our custom-built Newtonian telescope, as well as our smaller 14″ mirror Meade planetary telescope. With the assistance of our two observatory Managers, visitors will spend two hours viewing and learning about the night sky.

Parking is available at the Observatory, including a handicap parking space close to the building. Please arrive promptly at your designated time to the parking lot located at the Observatory. Dress comfortably for nighttime weather, as it is sometimes chilly in the mountain air. Closed-toed shoes and flashlights are highly recommended.

Ticket Information

Purchase Tickets


Adult Tickets: $25.00
Child Ticket: $5.00 (12 & under)

Viewings are scheduled depending on the moon cycle and sunset times for two-hour blocks. Click on Purchase Tickets button to view times and days. For the latest observatory information please call 828-470-7584.


Group or Private: $400 for two hours

To schedule a private rental email or call the Visitor Center at 828-470-7584. Maximum number of guests for private rentals is 26.

*The Observatory will not be open during inclement weather or on cloudy nights. In the case of inclement weather, ticket holders are notified 36 hours prior to the event of any changes.


Named the “Sam Scope” in memory of Samuel Phillips, the telescope is an f/3.6 StarStructure Newtonian telescope, with a 34 inch (0.86 meters) mirror. It is the largest telescope in the Southeast US dedicated to public use.

The Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation, a local nonprofit organization, provided funding for the fabrication of the telescope. To see our telescope mirror, CLICK HERE and scroll about halfway down the page to see our “34″ f/3.6 visual Newtonian.”

Important Information

Visiting When Observatory is Closed

Stargazers are welcome at the Earth to Sky Park when the Observatory is closed. However, caution is necessary. Please remember that lighting is kept to a minimum so that we preserve our dark skies. Bring a flashlight and be prepared to walk on uneven terrain. If the gate is closed, please park just outside the gate, on the right-hand side of the road and walk around the gate on foot.

Terms and Conditions

  • From parking area, be prepared to walk up an inclined pathway with some steps as you make your way through the moon gardens to the Observatory building. There is one handicap parking space and the Observatory building and three telescope viewing stations (located outside the building) are handicap and wheelchair accessible via a sidewalk and ramp.
  • In order to look through the Sam telescope, you will need to be able to climb two to three steps of a rolling safety ladder.
  • You will be outside the entire viewing time.
  • The Observatory will not be open during inclement weather (rain, snow, clouds, etc.). You will be notified via email of any inclement weather or cancellation 24 to 36 hours in advance. With the opening of the Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium, we can now offer an alternative two-hour astronomy experience option on evenings the Observatory is unavailable due to weather conditions. If the weather forecast is not favorable for outdoor stargazing, we will send out an email the day before to inform you that the astronomy event has been moved into the planetarium. Please plan to arrive at the Arthur Planetarium ten to fifteen minutes prior to event time. If you decide you do not want to attend the indoor astronomy experience, let us know prior to the start of the event by calling the Earth to Sky Park Visitor's Center, during operating hours at 828-470-7584, and we will have Eventbrite issue you a refund, minus their minimal processing fee. For Visitor Center Hours and more information on the Arthur Planetarium, go to
  • Please note that you will be at the Observatory and Earth to Sky Park at your own risk and will hold Mayland Community College and the Mayland Community College Foundation harmless in the event of an incident.
  • Mayland Community College is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged articles.
  • Please use caution as the terrain is uneven.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the viewing time to allow time to park and make your way up to the Observatory. Late arrivals will be admitted with valid tickets, however all viewings will start at their designated time due to the time sensitive nature of the sky. It is recommended that those unfamiliar with the Earth to Sky Park come during daylight hours to familiarize themselves with how to get to the Observatory and where to park.

International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Certification

The Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina have stood as silent witnesses to the uninterrupted, nightly rain of starlight for nearly a half-billion years, but artificial light now threatens this nightly show. In honor of notable local efforts to preserve the natural nighttime landscape of western North Carolina, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) designated the Mayland Earth to Sky Park and Observatory as the first IDA-certified Star Park in the southeastern United States. The Blue Ridge Astronomy Group (BRAG), a local amateur astronomy society, was instrumental in supporting MCC’s application to the Dark Sky Places Program.

For More Information on the IDA with a link to: 



GPS coordinates: 35°55′52″N 082°11′03″W
Physical address: 66 Energy Exchange Dr, Burnsville, NC

Current Conditions

Click here for Weather Conditions

Contact Us

828-766-1214 (Info Line)

Contact Us!

Call 828-470-7584

Email with Observatory questions:

Email with Planetarium questions:

Physical Address: 66 Energy Exchange Dr. Burnsville, NC 28714

Mailing address: PO Box 547 Spruce Pine, NC 28777.

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