Availability for visits during summer of 2021 is full.  Contact info@pari.edu if you would like to be placed on a waiting list.

Tour

ENJOY A DAY OF SCIENCE AND DISCOVERY AT PARI.

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Our guided tours are available to guests of all ages and interests.  

Tour our historical campus, initially developed by NASA in 1962, and learn about the role it played in the race to space. 

Explore our impressive—and massive—radio telescopes, along with a variety of instruments used to examine space.  

Visit PARI’s Exhibit Gallery displaying a collection of rare meteorites and minerals as well as NASA Space Shuttle artifacts, many of which have flown in space.

PARI Tour Options

GALLERY TOUR

2 hours ($150 minimum for up to 10 guests, $15 each additional person. By reservation only.)

The Gallery Tour starts with a look at the Electromagnetic Spectrum, where we discuss how light is used to reveal qualities of objects in space. We’ll use examples and hands-on activities of how we collect and use this information to learn about the universe around us.

Next, we’ll visit the Operations Center, where our telescopes, antennas, and earth science instruments are controlled. How they point, move, and what their data looks like will be revealed.  Visitors will learn how 3D Printers use data to create tactile models of the terrain of other planets and examine what a crater on the Moon or a volcano on Mars feels like. We’ll also discuss how robots, like rovers and orbiters, help gather the data used to explore the places humans can’t safely go.

In the NASA gallery, visitors will tour a selection of objects from throughout the history of space exploration–including a NASA-built model of the Apollo Lunar lander; the ATS6 satellite, responsible for the first satellite television; and an actual Redstone rocket engine that was one of the first to carry humans to space.

We’ll then move on to our galleries which feature meteorites from all over the world, including some from the Moon and Mars—and one that is thought to be the rarest meteorite in existence. Our impressive collection of gems, fossils and minerals from different parts of North Carolina are also on display, including a 15.3 carat emerald, a sample of radioactive uranium ore, rubies and amethyst, garnets, quartz and mica. You can even touch a dinosaur egg!

To complete the tour, we enter a dark domain to discover the hidden secrets of fluorescent minerals. These rocks look normal under light from the sun or a bulb, but reveal something entirely different when illuminated with varying frequencies of ultraviolet light.

VIP TOUR

4 hours ($500 minimum for up to 10 guests; $40 each additional person. By reservation only.)

This deeper look at the PARI site gets up close and personal with the instruments, archives and eras of our history in space. The VIP tour includes the Gallery tour and… 

Get a closer, hands-on look at one of our large radio telescopes! Visitors will learn how it operates and is controlled—and may even be able to capture data of an exploded star or rotating ball of gas. We’ll take a look at our tunnel system, which connects the original NASA buildings and provides safe and secure access to the data, power and water systems that keep the site operational for its essential role in space exploration.

Next visitors will visit one of the largest archives of astronomical data in the world, the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA). This 100 year-old collection contains data that is still relevant and in use today. Visitors will learn how the frontiers of astrophysics research can be pushed forward with something as simple as glass plates.

Finally, we’ll visit the optical ridge where our research-grade telescopes are housed and use the historic Russian spy binoculars that can see as far as the distant Blue Ridge Parkway.

EVENING VIEWINGS

2 hours ($200 minimum for up to 4 guests; $50 each additional person. By reservation only.)

Come just before dark and partner with a PARI astronomer for a guided journey through the best the sky.  Tell us what you want to see, or allow us to show you the best the sky has to offer.

An assortment of telescopes will be waiting for you, each suited for viewing different types of objects.  Reflectors and refractors with mirrors from 5 inches to 25 inches will ensure that whether you’re aimed at the Moon or distant galaxies, you’ll get the telescope that captures it best.

Ask for our astrophotography package if you want a lesson on photographing what you see.  Lunar craters, star trails, and deep space objects can all be turned into lasting photos under the guidance of our professional staff.  Make sure to talk to us first about what type of camera you plan to bring so we can prepare.

Because this is an outdoor activity and is weather dependent, sometimes Evening Viewings have to be cancelled or rescheduled.  We’ll keep an eye on the skies on the days and hours leading to your visit and keep you informed about conditions for viewing.  Viewings take place adjacent to a building with restrooms and climate control.

CUSTOMIZATIONS, ADD-ONS, BUNDLES

Are the options above not quite right?

For longer tours or different topics, take a look at our program menu.  Add some time or swap out some activities to find the visit that suits you and your party.  If a planetarium show followed by learning how to identify meteorites and a finale of rocket launching sounds right, we’ll make it happen.  (Additional costs may apply for longer visits or activities requiring certain supplies).

We can also pair tours and evening viewings, or add variety to your day with an excursion beyond our site.

PARI’s 200+ acre campus is nestled in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest, one of the most visited forests in the nation. We can assist in organizing outdoor excursions for our guests that complement your visit and provide an experience that captures your heart, while also stimulating your mind.

• Hiking and biking

• Fishing and rafting

• Waterfall exploration

• Exploration of local flora, geology and wildlife

Plan your visit to PARI