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Sierra Club January 3: Three Observatories in WNC

January 3 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

On January 3, the Sierra Club focuses on three observatories in WNC: Bare Dark Sky Observatory, Burnsville, NC; Lookout Observatory, UNC-Asheville; and Grassland Mountain Observatory, Madison County.

Margaret Earley-Thiele, Foundation Director for Mayland Community College, will address the importance of dark skies and the role that the Bare Dark Sky Observatory and the Earth to Sky Park play in conservation and educational efforts.

Bernard Arghiere, advisory board member and past president of the Astronomy Cub of Asheville, will discuss the history of the Lookout and Grassland Mountain observatories, describe the equipment they house, and when and how the public can access these facilities.

Bare Sky Dark Observatory
Located in Yancey County, outside Burnsville, NC, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory is the centerpiece of the Mayland Earth to Sky Park. This observatory provides a hands-on learning experience for Mayland students and is also open to the public by reservation. The park also will eventually house a state-of-the-art planetarium, a micro-propagation/aquaponics and hydroponics facility, a visitors’ center, and garden trails, as well as flexible classroom space, a meeting center, a butterfly garden, and a papermaking garden.

Earley-Thiele has been the Executive Director of the Mayland Community College Foundation since 2015, when she moved to Crossnore, NC, in Avery County with her husband and two children. She and her husband are currently in the design phase of building a “green living” home, complete with a living roof and urbancrete walls.

Lookout and Grassland Mountain Observatories
Lookout Observatory, on the campus of UNC-Asheville, and Grassland Mountain Observatory, Madison County, are operated by the Astronomy Club of Asheville. These observatories offer free public outreach a few times each month.

Arghiere, who led the design and construction of three observatories in WNC, stresses the inherent value of having these observatories in our community for people of all ages He also will update attendees on the status of recent/proposed changes to the City of Asheville’s outdoor lighting ordinance and will field questions about local outdoor lighting ordinances.

He has been a leader in the implementation of outdoor lighting ordinances that protect the night sky for Asheville and Woodfin, as well as for Buncombe County. A lifetime member of the Sierra Club, and a Blue Ridge Naturalist, Arghiere chairs the NC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

For more information, contact Judy Mattox,, 828-683-2176.


January 3
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Asheville
1 Edwin Pl
Asheville, NC 28801 United States