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Star Gazing!

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Fairy of the Eagle Nebula

On the evening of August 24th we had the pleasure of attending an open house at the Lynchburg College Belk Observatory.  Located on one of the highest points on the Claytor Nature Study property (approximately 960 feet above sea level)  the observatory features a 177-square-foot dome.  The dome houses the primary telescope and an observation deck equipped with 12 piers for mounting smaller telescopes.

Viewing the summer night sky through both large and small telescopes and astronomical binoculars we were presented with a show like none other.  Mike and I have had the pleasure of viewing the night sky from the middle of the ocean on several occasions, where the truly dark sky, due to the lack of ambient light emitted from humans and buildings, provides  for viewing spectacular stars and planets and maybe other life forms.  At the Belk Observatory, set at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, within a 470-acre preserve our views were almost as spectacular!  Plus, we had the advantage of viewing the night sky along the full horizon and “close up” and unobstructed.

Lynchburg College opens the observatory several times throughout the year to the public.  Admission is free but a ticket is required.  Visit the web site www.lynchburg.edu/observatory for the public viewing schedule and information on obtaining tickets.

The drive to the observatory from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast is about a 45-minute drive from Lynchburg through a beautiful part of Bedford County.  Stay with us for your viewing weekend and we’ll treat you like a “star” with our generous rooms, room amenities and 4-course breakfast each morning.  Visit our web site www.thecarriagehouseinnbandb.com to compare our availability calendar with the viewing calendar to book your stay with us.

Now the story of the Fairy of the Eagle Nebula:

The Eagle Nebula is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, whose “pillars of creation” are dense clouds of gas and dust that are regions of active star formation.  Out of one of these ten-light-year-tall pillars emerges a gigantic alien fairy holding a telescope in her hands, aimed south toward the approximate location of the Eagle Nebula.  The sculpture was envisioned and sculpted by Jon Hair and was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Belk.