With Spring just a week away, we’re daydreaming of warm breezes, verdant mountain vistas, wildflowers galore, spring songbirds and…well, we thought we’d go ahead and make a list of ten reasons to visit the mountains of Western North Carolina in springtime. What is there to see and do in Spring in the NC mountains?
|The night sky near Morganton, NC [Credit & Copyright: David Cortner]|
Being situated inside a National Forest has its perks, one of which being there are very few man-made lights outside. Instead, the sky is lit by thousands of stars on a dark, clear night, making the Inn on Mill Creek a great place for stargazing.
Mother Nature serves us up a good helping of dark night sky in Pisgah National Forest, thanks to zero street lights on our road and our location two miles within Pisgah National Forest, between two ridgelines that block a lot of the small town night lighting around us. So we like to provide a little calendar each year of what stargazing guests at the Inn on Mill Creek might see, other than the Milky Way (which, by the way, is awesome on a dark clear night flowing across the sky from the Lake House to the Main House).
For our amateur astronomer guests (and space-loving Innkeeper Brigette), the Inn on Mill Creek is a great location to do some stargazing. Our bed & breakfast is located two miles within Pisgah National Forest, with virtually no light pollution. Much to our delight, the evening lights coming from our neighboring small towns of Black Mountain and Old Fort, North Carolina, are conveniently blocked by two ridges to the east and west of us, making for great opportunities to see planets, stars, meteor showers, the beautiful bands of the Milky Way galaxy (and even the International Space Station sometimes).
Just like last year, Mother Nature rolled her blanket of clouds over the night skies and kept us from checking out the Leonids meteor shower. And just like last year, Brigette said, “No worries,” and took her galaxy gazing to the internet for some galaxy identification with Galaxy Zoo 2.
This being the International Year of Astronomy, we’ve been excited to see and/or read about all the special celestial events this year. The next event, the Perseids meteor shower, has its best viewing late tonight, as long as the sky is clear — will the clouds part in our area of western North Carolina between Black Mountain and Old Fort? We hope so.
We love stargazing here at the Inn on Mill Creek because it’s so easy to do with very little light pollution. So, we’re very excited to note that 2009 — marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of the telescope (above) to study the skies — has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Astronomy. (Thanks to Mark and Eileen for sharing with us an article from BLDGBLOG about Galloway Forest Park in Scotland announcing its plans to become Europe’s first “dark sky park.” What a great idea!)