Thursday, December 8, 2011

PARI, Placed in Perspective

Way back in April of 2009, just when I had reached 10,000 miles on my bike, I wrote about visiting the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, or PARI for short.  This impressive facility is located only a little over forty miles from home, but it is truly out of this world in appearance.

If you remember, as quoted from the PARI website:
"The facility, then called the Rosman Research Station, was a NASA site used during the 1960s and 1970s for tracking manned and unmanned space flights. It was the nation’s primary east coast satellite-tracking facility. In 1981, the facility was transferred to the Department of Defense for use as an intelligence gathering facility for U.S. defense and satellite communications. In 1995, the Department of Defense closed the facility, and turned the site over to the U.S. Forest Service.

"In 1999, the site was purchased from the U.S. Forest Service and given to PARI for use as an astronomical research and educational facility."
PARI hosts homeschool days, public tours on Wednesday afternoons, and Evenings at PARI held once a month to hear about and view the Heavens.

Anyway, I was riding on Saturday November 5 up NC-215 north of Rosman North Carolina on the way to somewhere else, when I turned down Macedonia Church Road toward PARI on a whim.  The facility is usually closed on Saturdays, so I really didn't expect to be able to go in.  I was surprised to see that the gates were open, so I went on in.

As it turns out, the site was hosting TEDxKatuah: The Art of Discovery.

For you who are not well informed, the TED website says that TED and Katuah are: 

...a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.

Katuah is a name often used to reference the bioregion that includes the mountain areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and northern Georgia.  A bioregion is defined by physical, environmental, and cultural features, which mirrors the interdisciplinary nature of this event, TEDxKatuah. 

It is said that the word “Katuah” was adopted from a Cherokee name for the mother town, Kituwah or Kituhwa. Although the exact origins surrounding the use of Katuah as a name for the bioregion are murky, the name may have been coined by Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann in the 1970s.
Oh.   Now we know. 

The event was organized by TEDxAsheville and featured speakers, exhibits, performances and interactive events.

Well, I had blundered into the middle of it, and was rubbernecking the big dishes and other things around.  I didn't stay, though they invited me provided I register, but I did snap a couple of pictures to give you an idea of the magnitude of one of the two largest dishes on the property.

Front view.

Rear view. 
This dish has a diameter of eighty-five feet.  BIG. 

Makes me feel small.  Just think of what this dish may have seen through its electronic eye while looking heavenward.  

Go visit some time.  For five bucks, they will give you a great two-hour tour. 



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