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Observatory Frequently Asked Questions

Triangulum galaxy

  • What COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the Observatory and what extra measures are you taking to keep it safe? 

The BDSO is following the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the state of NC and requires all visitors and staff to wear a mask during all stargazing events at the Observatory, including private and community viewing nights. We are also following the occupancy restrictions issued from the NC Governor’s office and are currently limited the number of visitors to 18. During the stargazing events, everyone is technically outside since there is no roof overhead, however, you are enclosed in the walls of the Observatory. Staff wipe down the handrails of the safety ladder and the eye piece of the telescope before and after each stargazing event. You do not need to put your eye directly against the eye piece in order to see through it. If you are feeling ill or have been exposed to COVID-19, please do not come to the stargazing event. Your tickets will be refunded or if it is a private event, you may reschedule. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at or by calling 828-766-1277.

  • Why do I need to purchase a ticket to attend a Bare Dark Sky Observatory event?

Viewing the dark sky with a high quality telescope is a very popular activity.  Our capacity is 25 guests, which allows each guest an opportunity to view several different celestial objects.

  • Why was my event cancelled?

Typically, events are cancelled due to unfavorable weather conditions.  Using local weather forecasting stations, we make our decision to cancel events 24-36 hours before the event begins, as many of our guests drive considerable distances to attend.

  • Can I receive a refund if I cannot make the event date?

A full refund will be issued by Eventbrite if we cancel an event.  However, the reservation service may keep a small portion of your purchase price if you cancel the reservation.  You may inquire about their policy on their website;

  • How does the waitlist work?

Once the maximum number of tickets have been purchases, potential guests may be placed on a waitlist. The Observatory managers are alerted to the waitlist entries and may open up ticket purchases. You will be contacted if a spot becomes available.

  • Why is the gate to the roadway locked after 5:00 pm and during the day on weekends?

The transfer station, which is operated by Yancey County Public Works Department, requires that the front gate be locked when they are not open, or whenever there is no event at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory or Earth-to-Sky Park.  When the gate is locked, guests are allowed to park outside the Park and walk around the gate. Please be advised there will be no attendants or staff on site after hours and you enter the Park at your own risk. No overnight camping is allowed at the Earth-to-Sky Park or at the site of the Bare Dark Sky Observatory.

  • Are there restroom facilities?

There is one portable toilet located near the Bare Dark Sky Observatory entrance at this time.

  •  Why isn’t the Bare Dark Sky Observatory open during week nights?

The Observatory is often the site for private viewing events during the weeknights. These events are a great way to share a birthday or anniversary with your family and friends. A private event is an ideal opportunity to enrich homeschooling curriculum or encourage a love of science for children and adults. Please call us for event pricing and reservations.

  • What is the best time to visit the Bare Dark Sky Observatory?

We are open year-round.  Although during the winter the night temperatures may be very cold, the night sky is rich with incredible celestial objects not otherwise visible during the summer months.  Our most popular nights are in late June through mid-October when the weather is warmer.   Saturn, Jupiter and the Milky Way are best viewed during these months, as well.  The events during the summer sell out quickly, so we encourage guests to make reservations well in advance of their visit.

  • Why is the Bare Dark Sky Observatory closed on some weekends?

When the moon appears more than 50% full, we do not hold Community Viewing Nights, as the reflected light from the moon makes viewing other night sky objects difficult.

  • What astronomy tools would enrich my understanding of the night sky?

There are several night sky apps that help you find celestial objects from your location. Sky view, Star Chart, Star Walk 1 & 2, are a few readily available apps.