4 Local Scientific Research Centers that Make a Global Difference

Since 1970, April 22 has been known as “Earth Day,” a day when people come together to support the environment, work towards sustainability, and protect the planet. While Earth Day has become “the largest civic observance in the world,” there are many who believe that one day isn’t enough. Their focus on protecting this little blue marble is a year-round endeavor.

You may not know it, but Western North Carolina is a hub for planetary science. Much of it focuses on the climate and geophysics of our own world, but other eyes peer farther into the cosmos. For Earth Day 2018, let’s celebrate these four local research centers that make a world of difference!

4 Local Scientific Research Centers that Make a Global Difference

Photo from NCICS

National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

“From the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and from million-year-old ice core records to near-real-time satellite images, NCEI is the nation’s leading authority for environmental information.”—NCEI


Asheville is the official headquarters for the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). A branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NCEI houses the largest collection of weather, climate, and environmental data in the world. As such, NCEI was designed to provide the most comprehensive data “to private industry and businesses, local to international governments, [and] academia, as well as the general public.” To date, more than 25 petabytes of current and historical atmospheric, coastal, geophysical, and oceanic data are available for use in public awareness, research, and decision making.

151 Patton Ave, Asheville | (828) 271-4800 | ncei.noaa.gov

Photo from The Collider

The Collider

“Innovative climate solutions must be grounded in the best science and speak the language of business.” —The Collider


In their own words, The Collider works “to devise and promote market-driven climate solutions.” One of Asheville’s newest innovative nonprofits, their mission is to encourage and facilitate collaborations among academia, nonprofits, businesses, the government, and the public. The Collider frequently hosts science-themed community events in its 200-person theater in the heart of downtown Asheville. They also host one-of-a-kind coworking space for entrepreneurs and companies that support environmental and climate science innovation.

Suite 401, 1 Haywood Street, Asheville | (828) CLIMATE  | thecollider.org

Celebrate Earth Day: Science Pub with Rachel Muir

The Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) and The Collider regularly host Science Pub, a free Friday night guest speaker series. This month’s presentation will address species restoration and ecology of the French Broad River.

The Collider | April 20, 2018 | Doors 5:30pm, Presentation 6:30–8:00pm

Photo from PARI

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI)

“PARI’s mission is to promote science and excite the imagination, to become a place where researchers can try unconventional ideas, where pure research combines with practical application, and where people can begin their education and be inspired to continue.” —PARI


As an organization, PARI was established in 1998 to provide hands-on educational and research opportunities for a broad cross section of STEM disciplines. Their site, however, traces its history back to 1962, when it was an east coast NASA satellite tracking facility. Today, PARI is a protected astronomical site with more than 30 buildings, four radio telescopes of various sizes, a high frequency Jupiter-Io/Solar antenna, 11 optical telescopes, five weather and atmospheric monitoring stations, and various environmental monitoring instruments. PARI’s research is utilized by universities in a multi-state area, and the location is home to the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA).

1 PARI Drive, Rosman | (828) 862-5554 | pari.edu

Celebrate Earth Day: SkyTrek & Dinner

Take a SkyTrek through a few of the wonders of our Milky Way before journeying to one of our neighboring galaxies. The summer skies will showcase Jupiter and Saturn. This event is designed for all ages, so bring the entire family.

PARI | April 21, 2018 | 8:00–10:00pm | Registration Required

Photo from Bare Dark Sky Observatory

Earth to Sky Park

“The Earth to Sky Park will be a destination point for visitors who are interested in learning about the world we live in, from the earth to the sky.” —Earth to Sky Park


Formerly called the EnergyXchange, the Mayland Earth to Sky Park is the future home of a state-of-the-art planetarium, micro-propagation/aquaponics and hydroponics facility, visitor center, and garden trails. The centerpiece of the park, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory currently provides hands-on learning to Mayland Community College students, as well as being open to the public by reservation. The observatory gives community members an opportunity to experience the wonders of the universe at the first International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)-certified Star Park in the Southeast.

66 Energy Exchange Drive, Burnsville | (828) 766-1233 | mayland.edu/about-mayland/earth-to-sky-park

Celebrate Earth Day: April Community Observation Night

Experience an evening of stargazing like you’ve never seen before! With the assistance of our Observatory Manager, view the moon, planets, and stars through the 34″ Sam Scope, as well as a smaller planetary telescope.

Bare Dark Sky Observatory | April 20, 2018 | 9:00–11:00pm | $5–$10, Registration Required


Have you visited any of these world-changing science centers? Tell us about your experience in the comments.




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