Bare Dark Sky Observatory
Opened in the spring of 2017, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory in Yancey County is home to a brand new, custom-built telescope with a large 34-inch mirror. Located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park, the Bare Observatory sits on a mountaintop at 2,736 ft and offers 360-degree viewing of the night sky.
Tickets to the Bare Observatory are $10 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under. Groups up to 20 people can rent the observatory for $100 per hour, minimum two hours. Ideal for civic groups, astronomy clubs and other groups. For reservations, call (828) 766-1233.
GPS coordinates: 35°55′52″N 082°11′03″W
Physical address: 66 Energy Exchange Dr, Burnsville, NC 28714
The Bare Dark Sky Observatory has a f/3.6 StarStructure Newtonian telescope with a 34 inch (0.86 meter) mirror, the largest telescope in the Southeastern U.S. in a Dark Sky facility dedicated to research and recreational activities. Viewings will be one day per week for 2 hour blocks depending on sunset times.
The Observatory also has another telescope on site, a Meade LX200 that is well-suited for astro-photography. The Blue Ridge Astronomy Group (BRAG), a local amateur astronomy society, was instrumental in supporting Mayland Community College’s application to the Dark Sky Program.
In order to look through the eyepiece on the telescope you’ll need to be able to climb several metal steps of a rolling safety ladder. The Bare Dark Sky Observatory is operated by Mayland Community College, which has campuses in Mitchell, Avery & Yancey Counties.
The building uses a roll-off roof that slides on rails to open up the night sky for 360-degree viewing. The Bare Dark Sky Observatory’s outdoor lighting consists entirely of fully-shielded, low-color-temperature light emitting diode (LED) fixtures.
The Bare Dark Sky Observatory is named after benefactors Warren and Larissa Bare. Several private donors contributed to the building of the new facility. The telescope is nicknamed the “Sam Scope” in honor of the Samuel Phillips Foundation.
To reach the Observatory, you’ll walk approximately 50 feet up an inclined mulch path. You will be outside the entire viewing time. The Observatory will not be open during inclement weather (rain, snow, cloud cover).
There are several concrete pads around the outside of the Observatory building where people can set up their own telescopes. If you visit at night, please remember that lighting is kept to a minimum, so bring a flashlight and be prepared to walk on uneven terrain.