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Field Course: Grandfather’s Starry Skies

October 19, 2024 @5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

October is one of the best times of year to be stargazing at Grandfather Mountain. The air is cool and clear, and the summer constellations are still very prominent, with some early winter sights making their appearance later in the evening.

Our goal for this class is to create a familiarity with the night sky and learn the basics of stargazing that can be applied on your own on any clear night throughout the year. We’ll start in the classroom by exploring some of the best print and digital resources for exploring the night sky and cover some of the basics of stargazing and how to orient to the night sky. We’ll also discuss the use of planispheres, star maps and star charts to find some of the most beautiful deep sky wonders that can be seen through binoculars or small telescopes. During the evening hours, we’ll be out at various viewing locations on the mountain, practicing our stargazing skills while looking for meteors and learning about some of the most prominent stars, constellations and other objects visible this time of year.

Blair Belt-Clark started stargazing and storytelling at a very young age. She rekindled her love of the stars when she stumbled upon a storytelling troupe that focused on traditional star stories from multiple regions. Ever since, she’s been a science communicator teaching folks from near and far about the stars and their stories above. She is an educator, astronomer and Dark Sky Liaison for the International Dark Sky Association. Blair enjoys breaking down astronomy to a level that you can take home and showcase to your friends and family.

Program Itinerary
5:00 p.m. – Meet at the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery and Introductions
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Classroom learning about the night sky and the use of astronomy resources
7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. – Evening observing, with program concluding at the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery

This event costs $60 for general admission and $51 for members of Grandfather Mountain’s Bridge Club – plus tax. Registration opens below on August 19, 2024, at 10 a.m. Limited to 15 participants.

What’s included?
Your program cost includes admission into the park, field instruction, and transportation during your program (you may drive your own vehicle to visit sites on the mountain if you would prefer). It does not include meals or lodging. Bringing a bagged dinner/snacks is recommended for this field course, as Mildred’s Grill will be closed to attendees. Tips are not accepted for field courses. However, donations to the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation are accepted if you would like to recognize a program.

General Clothing List
Much of your time will be spent outdoors and all programs are held rain, snow or shine. You should be prepared for a variety of mountain weather conditions and temperatures. Appropriate clothing, equipment and footwear are very important.


  • Daypack with enough room to carry extra clothing, water, dinner, camera, binoculars, etc.
  • Water Bottle
  • Layers of warm clothing, including warm hats, gloves, and shoes
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook & Pencil


Equipment Specific to this Course:
A planisphere, while not required, can be helpful in learning the night sky and how it moves throughout the year. There are many good options available on Amazon and elsewhere, but please be sure to purchase one appropriate for our latitude of 35 degrees north (planispheres for 30 or 40 degrees latitude will be fine).

A Peterson Field Guide to the Stars and Planets is recommended by the instructor, but not required. The latest copy on Amazon (4th edition, updated) is less than $20.

A red flashlight for navigating paths at night and also viewing star charts. These can be purchased through local or online retailers or you can make your own by covering the lens of a standard flashlight with red cellophane or fingernail polish. The idea is to create a light source that’s not too bright that it will affect your dark-adapted night vision, so beware of using very bright LED flashlights as they will need a lot of layers of red filtering to make them usable for our purposes.

Adult Field Courses generally sell out and have a waiting list associated with the event. If you cannot attend the field course that you are registered for, a full refund will be granted within a five-day notice of the day of the field course. This allows time for individuals on the waiting list to make accommodations to attend the event. We ask that individuals who are sick with any illness to stay home to ensure the health and safety of other participants, our staff, and the field course instructors – refunds will be granted to these individuals.


October 19, 2024
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Event Category:

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646

Owned & operated by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Go here for Grandfather Mountain State Park information.
Member of Southern Highlands Attractions