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Adult Field Course: Grandfather’s Starry Skies

October 7, 2023 @5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

$51.00 – $60.00
Stephan Martin, Star Gazing at Grandfather Mtn

This event is SOLD OUT. To be placed on the waiting list, please send an email to judi@grandfather.com with your name, email address, phone number and the number of spots you are interested in.

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 class is also during the time of the Orionid meteor shower, so hopefully some of these celestial fireworks will grace our skies during our nighttime observing.

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.

Your instructor, Stephan Martin, has been a stargazer since he was very young growing up under dark skies of South Florida. Steve is also an astronomer, educator, and author who has taught astronomy and physics at colleges, universities, and learning centers across the US and internationally for over twenty-five years.  He has worked as a data analyst for the Hubble Space Telescope and as Observatory Supervisor at Williams College, where he participated in scientific research expeditions around the world to study the dynamics of the solar corona during solar eclipses.

Program Itinerary
5:00 p.m. Meet at the Wilson Center 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

This Adult Field Course costs $60 for general admission and $51 for members of Grandfather Mountain’s Bridge Club, plus tax. Attendance is limited to 15 participants. Registration opens below on August 15 at 9 a.m.

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. Please note that Mildred’s Grill will be closed this late in the day. You are encouraged to eat dinner before you come or bring a bagged meal with you to eat during a break. 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 if you have them
  • Notebook & Pencil
  • 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. We will have some red cellophane available during class for this use. 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 5-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.

More about Field Courses
We at Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation are excited to share the unique wonders of the mountain with you. Since 2008, GMSF has aimed at creating educational programming that deepens understanding through in-depth study and field research. Our goal is to provide you with a rich experience in a particular field of study, and to also provide a safe and memorable trip to Grandfather Mountain. Read more about Field Courses.


October 7, 2023
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
$51.00 – $60.00
Event Categories:


Grandfather Mountain
2050 Blowing Rock Highway
Linville, NC 28646 United States
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The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Adult Field Course: Starry Skies - General
$ 60.00
0 available
Sold Out
Adult Field Course: Starry Skies - Bridge Club
$ 51.00
0 available
Sold Out

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