Rob Burbank's Outdoors with the AMC: Watch the stars and the sun in AMC's astronomy programs

By ROB BURBANK August 03. 2018 7:10PM
A time-lapse photo of the stars over the AMC's Highland Center Lodge in Crawford Notch, where Dr. Douglas Arion of Carthage College will present a "Mountain of Stars" program on Aug. 12. (JAMES LOWENTHAL/SMITH COLLEGE)

Hikers plying the White Mountain National Forest's Pemigewasset Wilderness will recognize the name "Guyot" for the nearby 4,580-foot mountain and backcountry campsite that share the moniker.

They're named in honor of 19th-century geologist Arnold Henry Guyot, for whom a crater on the moon was also named. Guyot was an honorary member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, so one could draw a connection between AMC and outer space, despite the organization being primarily known for terrestrial pursuits.

Perhaps an even stronger connection exists today, however, as AMC brings astronomical observation to White Mountains visitors through its ongoing partnership with the Institute of Astronomy at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.

Now in their seventh year of partnership, AMC and the college are opening eyes and minds to the sky overhead through observationsof both the daytime and nighttime sky with the aid of telescopes at AMC huts and lodges in the White Mountains.

Under the program, spearheaded by Carthage Director Dr. Douglas Arion, college interns facilitate sky observations for visitors to AMC's huts and visitor centers and the Flume Visitor Center in Franconia Notch State Park. Daytime solar observations are featured on Saturdays at The Flume, where curious sky-watchers can use a special telescope designed to allow users to safely observe the sun, along with sun spots and solar flares.

Daytime and nighttime observations are offered at AMC's Highland Center at Crawford Notch and the Joe Dodge Lodge/Pinkham Notch Visitor Center most days, weather permitting.

Interns from Carthage College, Smith College, Stony Brook University and Dartmouth College serve as astronomy guides. Funding is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Astronomy guides and hut naturalists facilitate sky viewing at AMC's backcountry huts, and telescopes are available for use by hut guests.

Daily astronomy programs and sky viewing are also offered at AMC's Maine Wilderness Lodges in the 100-Mile Wilderness/Moosehead Lake region.

Astronomy guides are set to offer sky viewing through Aug. 19 in most locations. Viewing opportunities are set to continue throughout late October at AMC huts.

Under the banner, "Mountains of Stars," AMC is also offering evening presentations with Dr. Arion at the Highland Center on Sunday, Aug. 12, and at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on Saturday, Aug. 18. The Aug. 12 program coincides with the expected peak of the Perseid meteor shower, when it may be possible to see up to 80 meteors per hour, weather permitting.

More information is available by calling AMC's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 466-2721 or the AMC Highland Center at 278-4453. Additional information is available on the AMC & Carthage Astronomy Facebook page at

Rob Burbank is Director of External Relations for the Appalachian Mountain Club ( in Pinkham Notch. His column, "Outdoors with the AMC," appears monthly in the New Hampshire Sunday News.

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