Cline Observatory

The Cline Observatory is open to the public for viewing every clear Friday night throughout the year.

The viewings begin ½ hour after sunset during March-October, and at 7:00 during November-February. (Determine sunset time for a particular date.)  Sessions usually last about two hours, but may run longer or shorter depending on interest and sky conditions.  Our sessions are  unstructured – there’s no program – just telescopic viewing.

Note that the observatory is open to the night air, and so will be cold in the winter and warm in the summer.  Be sure to dress for the conditions.

For updates regarding how weather or other issues will affect this week’s session, check our Twitter Updates Page @gtccastro.

For other questions about the observatory and its programs, contact Tom English at or GTCC extension 50023.

There is no charge for public night viewing and the observatory is open to anyone wishing to attend. No reservations are necessary, and there are no limits on the number of attendees. (We do ask that you let us know well ahead of time if you plan to bring a large group.)

Public Viewing Schedule

Click on the links below to read viewing schedule.

January, 2017

January Sessions (Sessions Start at 7:00 p.m.)
6 Jan Aldebaran Dennis Hands
13 Jan Winter Double Stars Christina Guzik
20 Jan M31 – the Andromeda Galaxy Hank Corbett
27 Jan M42 – the Orion Nebula Beth Desch
Sessions Continue in February

February, 2017

February Sessions (Sessions Start at 7:00 p.m.)
3 Feb Life of a Star Tim Martin
10 Feb Venus
(Penumbral Lunar Eclipse during session)
David Connor
17 Feb Open Clusters along the Winter Milky Way Jeff Swanson
24 Feb Globular Cluster M79 Kevin Erdy

March, 2017

November Sessions (Sessions start at dark unless otherwise noted)
3 Mar Exoplanet Host Stars
Session starts after Pre-TriStar Public Lecture
Jeff Regester
4 Mar TriStar Festival of Astronomy
Observatory open for General Viewing 7-9
Joseph Holmes
10 Mar Featured Object TBA Alec LaGrega
17 Mar Galaxies M81/M82 Brian Morris
24 Mar Double Star Algieba (Gamma Leo) Errika Wyatt

April, 2017

December Sessions (Sessions start at Dark)
7 Apr StateWide Star Party Session
Science Hall Open House 6:30-8:30
Dennis Hands
14 Dec Featured Object TBA
21 Apr Observing begins after NCSF Stellar Society Lecture
28 Apr Featured Object TBA
Sessions Continue in May

Featured objects listed on the calendar are possible highlights for the session, but many interesting objects are shown each session.

TelecospeOur Telescope

The observatory is equipped with a 24-inch PlaneWave CDK24 reflector (pictured below being lowered into the dome of the observatory on Wednesday, 14 May 2014) on a Mathis MI1000 high precision fork mount. Other 8-inch reflectors are set up outside the dome during viewing sessions if attendance warrants.

This telescope is one of the largest in operation in North Carolina.  It is currently the third largest permanently mounted optical telescope at an educational institution in the state, tied with the 24-inch at Morehead Observatory in Chapel Hill, and surpassed by the 32-inch telescopes at Three College Observatory operated by UNCG in Alamance County and Appalachian State University’s Dark Sky Observatory.  The Blue Ridge Astronomy Club, Mayland Community College, and Yancey County are building a Dark Sky Park that will feature a 34-inch telescope in a Dobsonian configuration.