The following is a letter from Charles Osborne, Technical Director of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in nearby Rosman, SC. PARI is a non-profit research group dedicated to making astronomy available to educators and researchers. Several times a year they invite volunteers to help them with a variety of their ongoing projects. It’s an amazing facility, and donations of your time helps them with their mission and gives you an opportunity to tour the site and understand more about what they are trying to accomplish.
In the 1960′s and 1970′s the Rosman Research Station was a NASA space flight facility. From 1981 to 1995 the facility was used by the Department of Defense for intelligence gathering. In 1999 the site was transferred to its current owners for development as an astronomical research and education facility. (website)
From Charles Osbourne:
Its been a while since our last volunteer weekend in April. Several of you helped with our NASA Space Day Open House in May and the Homeschool Day. Lots of visitors, about 80 for Homeschool Day students, and then 300+ at the Space Day Open House. Couldn’t have done it without you. Tom and Lynn Crowley, Steve Davis, and Don Brooks got their picture on cover of the local newspaper showing people the Sun thru solar telescopes in front of our main building at PARI. Lots of good comments.
Our volunteer weekend efforts in April were centered on some new single mode fiber runs in the tunnel. It takes an army to untangle and install a 1200ft fiber cable. So the volunteer weekend was another example of a task which would have taken the whole staff of PARI without you. That work put us in a position to make a fusion splice at mid tunnel joining the two 1200 ft runs into a seamless twelve fibers from the feedbox of the west 26m antenna to the control room a half mile away. Volunteers Joey Ponder and Daniel Chapman as a matter of fact did the fiber optic fusion splicing as well.
For the June 10th volunteer weekend we are approaching one of our main student group visits this summer, the Duke Talent Identifcation Program. It is a group of high school students who take an intensive two week astronomy workshop here on site at PARI. Getting everything ready for them network and PC wise will likely be our focus. And their professor Alan Gleue will be here getting familiar with the site. We can help with that as well.
Other tasks will be: some general organizing, test equipment repair, network cabling, fiber optic work, and other tasks dependant on who is available volunteer wise.
With a number of new volunteers on the list, I’ll mention the basics again as to the volunteer weekends. Lamar and I are on site by 9am. Mostly locals are arriving that early. People trickle in all morning since some are coming from Raleigh, Atlanta, or Charlotte. Lunch is up to the individual. Fast food is a long way away. So bring sandwiches. We have a small kitchen area, but it is mostly set aside for the summer students for the next two volunteer weekends. So repect their kitchen items and refrigerator space. Use the small refrig in the old kitchen area.
We keep going most of the day. Any who want to stay around for star gazing after sunset are welcome to eat supper here as well. I’ll get out my 10″ Meade telescope (weather permitting) for a couple of hours. If you are into astronomy and have a telescope. Bring it along and feel free to setup on the helipad or in the building 28 parking lot as I do.
Those coming from a long distance may want to stay overnight. We have a few rooms for volunteers. Bring a sleeping bag if you have one, though we do have some linen for the beds if you don’t. Its a bit dorm like, and mostly self serve. But a big step above camping out.
As always let me know if you are coming so we can plan our tasks accordingly.
Thanks for your support of PARI,
Charles S. Osborne
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
1 PARI Drive, HC 73, Box 638
Rosman, NC 28772-9614
[Ed. note] We’ve had great fun volunteering for PARI in the past, and hope that you’ll consider adding it to your plans for this weekend.