2018 New Years Supermoon

Largest Supermoon of 2018

Astronomers at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) point out that the upcoming New Years night full moon will be the largest of 2018. Didn’t the astronomers at PARI just put out an advisory that the largest full moon of the year occurred on December 4? Yes, but remember, that full moon was in calendar year 2017. A month later we have another large full moon on January 1. We start off the year with the largest full moon of 2018! Why do we have these large full moons, hyped by the media as “Super Moons,” so close together?

Let’s review the celestial mechanics of this phenomenon. The moon follows an orbital path around the earth that is an ellipse, a mathematical figure that is sort of a squashed down circle. Each time the moon orbits the earth it passes through a point called apogee where it is farthest from the earth and a point called perigee on the opposite side of its orbit where it is at its closest. The moon can pass through these points at any time of the month but, if it does so near full moon, we sometimes take notice of it. If full moon occurs near apogee, the moon will appear smaller than average. If full moon occurs close to perigee, the moon will appear a bit larger than average since it is closer to us. This is what occurred in December; we had perigee and full moon about 17 hours apart, the closest this occurred in 2017. Thus, we saw the largest full moon of the year on the night of December 3-4!

The moon takes roughly 27⅓ days to pass from one point in its orbit around and back again to the same point. This is called the sidereal month. The moon will be back at perigee at 5 p.m. EST on New Years Day. Meanwhile, the whole earth-moon system is orbiting the sun. This makes full moons about 29½ days apart; astronomers refer to this period as the synodic month. On the upcoming New Years Day, the moon will pass through perigee (356,565 km or 221,156 mi from earth) at about 5 p.m. The next full moon will be 9:24 p.m. EST that evening. Thus, the moon will be at perigee and full only 4 hours 24 minutes apart. That’s even closer than the 17 hours we had in December! This is the closest perigee and full moon will occur in 2018 and, thus, the closest a full moon will be to the earth. It will appear larger than any other full moon in 2018!




IMLS Grant Awarded

IMLS Grant Awarded

IMLS Grant Awarded

PARI has been awarded a Museums for America Award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The $24,475.00 grant comes as a direct result of an APDA (Astronomical Photographic Data Archive) Stewardship Proposal by PARI Consultants Dr. Mike Castelaz and Thurburn Barker. The funds from the grant will help develop a standards-based EAD3 compliant online digital finding aid that links to APDA’s online public access digital catalog of astronomical plates and films for research, education, interpretation, publication, and study.

“With support from the Institute of Museums and Library Services we will be able to make the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive at PARI visible to the world. Astronomers anywhere in the world can access finding aids describing the contents of APDA, request which of the 50 collections of ~340,000 astronomical photographic glass plates and films may contain images of celestial objects they are studying,” says Dr. Mike Castelaz. “This new database resource is critical for APDA’s recognition as one of the largest collections of astronomical photographic data in the world. We are very excited by the receipt of the IMLS grant and greatly appreciate their confidence in our work.”

This year IMLS received 558 applications requesting $104,538,159. Of these, 132 projects were selected to receive funding totaling $19,189,929. IMLS’s peer reviewers evaluated all eligible and complete grant applications, assessing the merit of each proposal and its fit with the goals of the grant program and project category. IMLS staff presented this information to the IMLS Director, Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, who then made the final funding decisions.

“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said Dr. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. The agency’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.




First Annual Frightful FriendFest

First Annual Frightful FriendFest

Frightful FriendFest at PARI

Frightful Friends at PARI

Frightful FriendFest Ride

Frightful FriendFest Hayride

What do aliens, bonfires, storytelling, shooting stars, Bigfoot and amazing friends have in common? They were all part of PARI’s First Annual Frightful FriendFest! Just before Halloween, PARI welcomed 200 guests to our campus for evening of festive Fall activities in appreciation of our great partners within the Transylvania County communities. Partners and friends included Headwaters Outfitters, McCall’s Grading, Balsam Grove Fire Department, White Squirrel Radio and Jonie’s Diner.

Guests were treated to a BBQ dinner, haunted hayrides, a live-action alien escape attraction, bonfire storytelling by Cherokee’s Freeman Owle and stargazing at the Nature Center. The evening was capped off unexpectedly with an extremely bright, green shooting star at the end of the observing session. It lit the Pisgah sky like a firework from the 4th of July. As a result of the very positive reviews and reception, PARI looks forward to making this event a mainstay in the years to come!


PARI’s New YouTube Channel

PARI’s New YouTube Channel

PARI's YouTube Channel

PARI’s YouTube Channel

With the increase of streaming capabilities and opportunities, YouTube has emerged as a viable outlet for video distribution. With over 1 billion viewers monthly, PARI has seen a great opportunity to utilize YouTube’s video platform as a digital outlet to our audiences. This opportunity has resulted in the launch of PARI’s very own YouTube channel.

If you didn’t get an opportunity to visit us for August’s Solar Eclipse, not to worry! The channel currently includes a library of videos from guest speakers at our 2017 Solar Eclipse event, the Eclipse from Optical Ridge and links to numerous media outlets that have covered PARI recently and in the past. As we look to continue our increased outreach and awareness in 2018, YouTube will serve to be an effective way to communicate PARI’s message to a broader audience base.

To visit PARI’s channel, please click here!


Homecoming at PARI

Homecoming at PARI

PARI Homecoming 2017

PARI Homecoming – Joe Collins

PARI welcomed its dedicated staff, distinguished donors and volunteers with a special Homecoming celebration to say thank you and in celebration for all of their hard work and efforts. The evening began with a delicious, festive turkey and salmon dinner, prepared by Marco’s Trattoria’s very own Marc Dambax, and was followed by a special keynote presentation by longtime PARI friend and supporter, Joe Collins. The evening was concluded with special recognitions by Managing Director, John Holloway, with PARI’s Annual President’s Award being awarded to Tim DeLisle.

In the coming year, we look forward to partnering with this special group of individuals to continue PARI’s dynamic evolution into a viable, sought after destination within the region. On behalf of Don Cline and the staff at PARI, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to our Friends of PARI for their continued support! Click here to view Joe Collins’ keynote presentation.

PARI Homecoming – Awards