PARI is recognized by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), as only one of two Dark Sky Parks in North Carolina. We pride ourselves on maintaining a dark night sky, not only because it allows for ideal astronomical observations, but because preserving the night sky also beneﬁts our health and environment.
Studies have shown that increased light pollution is linked to disruptions in sleep patterns, obesity, diabetes, mental health disorders and various chronic health conditions. Many species in the wild have evolved to rely on uninterrupted periods of darkness at night and need darkness to survive. A naturally dark site reduces the effects of electric lighting on the environment, improves the well-being, health, and safety of our human and wildlife population and decreases energy consumption.
Protect Our Night Sky
Protecting darkness is key to ecological integrity and sustaining a healthy population and environment. Visit darksky.org to learn more about this initiative.
How to View at PARI
PARI has several options to help you experience our dark skies. They can all be found on our calendar.
For the observer with their own equipment and a quiet night under the stars, look for Dark Sky Astronomy Night events.
For an experience guided by a PARI astronomer and paired with talks and other activities, look at our many other evening events.
While our focus is on schools, PARI also frequently works with scouting groups, community organizations, clubs, and private groups to create custom experiences. If your group would like a night time trip to PARI, we recommend planning your visit ahead of time as our calendar fills up fast!
Other Places to View
We hope one of our options can be a part of your visit to the region. But, if your stay in the Pisgah National Forest doesn’t bring you to PARI, there are some other places star-gazers like to stop that are close by.
These overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway are also nestled deep in the Pisgah National Forest and far from city lights. Many have ample space to set up a telescope. You can even see PARI from some!
Sometimes inclement weather can cause the Blue Ridge Parkway to close. Check their Parkway Road Conditions page before heading out.
Sleeping Under a Dark Sky
Many of our events offer an option for overnight accommodations. Camping or indoor lodging is available. Outside of these events, overnight stays are subject to site availability and group size.
Another option is the Pisgah National Forest, which has many campgrounds and other types of overnight options available. Many require pre-registration and a fee so make sure to check them out ahead of time.