PARI Timeline

PARI Timeline

Construction began in the early 1960s at the current PARI site for one of NASA’s first satellite tracking stations (see History in About PARI).  PARI traces its history to 1998 and has made rapid progress in developing STEM education and science programs for people of all ages. Here are some highlights:


  • PARI founded as a not-for-profit foundation.


  • Campus site acquired through private funds and gifted to the foundation.
  • Thad McCall, facilities manager, hired as PARI’s first employee.


  • Friends of PARI volunteer program established.
  • First annual Space Day attracts hundreds of visitors.


  • AdventureDome portable planetarium purchased. The planetarium has now hosted more than 75,000 visitors.


  • First Duke TIP (Talent Identification Program) brings high school students to PARI for a two-week session. The program has run each summer since.
  • School of Galactic Radio Astronomy (SGRA) established to make PARI’s “Smiley” telescope available to high school students and teachers via the Internet.


  • Astronomical Advisories program launched to provide regular notice to news media of interesting celestial events.


  • Monthly Evening at PARI programs began, providing public access to the campus, programs and telescopes.


  • Cline Administration Building dedicated to honor Jo and Don Cline, PARI founders and benefactors.
  • Inaugural Space Science Lab brings 30 Western North Carolina high school students to PARI for a week of learning followed by a yearlong program of scientific inquiry.
  • PARI joins the NC Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative.
  • Barrier Maintenance Building dedicated to honor James and Ardelia Barrier, major benefactors.
  • Funded by a NSF grant, work begins to combine PARI’s two 26m radio telescopes into an interferometer.


  • Campus public tours begin, conducted by volunteer Friends of PARI docents.
  • PARI extends educational reach to students being schooled at home, with the first in a continuing series of Homeschool Days.
  • Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA) established at PARI.
  • Friends of PARI construct and dedicate the Galaxy Walk.


  • UNAVCO GPS station constructed at PARI as part of the Earthscope Plate Boundary Observatory.
  • Lasker Scanning Lab dedicated in APDA.


  • First Star Party, a weekend of observing for astronomy enthusiasts.
  • SCOPE (Stellar Classification Online- Public Exploration) software developed to allow citizen scientists to access APDA and analyze stars.


  • National Science Foundation awards a $1.3 million grant to renovate PARI’s Research Building.


  • PARI launches SciGirls program for girls ages 9-14, in partnership with PBS and Twin Cities Public Television.
  • Jo’s Cove dedicated to honor PARI co-founder Jo Cline.
  • PARI’s Exhibit Gallery becomes one of only two museums in NC to receive artifacts from NASA’s Space Shuttle program.


  • PARI kiosk installed at the Nature Research Center to link the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh as a permanent link to PARI programs and instruments.


  • Parks Observation Deck opens to the public.
  • Site 50th Anniversary celebration.


  • Hiking trails opened at Jo’s Cove.
  • Outdoor Planetarium Amphitheater hosts first stargazing event.


  • 12m radio telescope dedicated.
  • Exhibit Gallery expanded to house gems and minerals in addition to meteorites and space artifacts.
  • Brevard College and Warren Wilson College begin astronomy labs at PARI.
  • Saturday hours and tours added for public visitation.
  • Jo Cline Memorial Fund established.
  • Smithsonian Institution loans ATS-6 Satellite for display in PARI’s Exhibit Gallery.
  • Steve Saucier joins PARI as Executive Director