Public Viewing Schedule

Cline ObservatoryOur 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.

observatoryThe 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.)

Viewing Schedule

Date Featured Object Host
August Sessions
7 August Cat’s Eye Nebula Jeff Swanson
14 August Summer Globular Clusters Tim Martin
21 August M11 – the Wild Duck Cluster Errika Wyatt
28 August Saturn Christina Guzik
September Sessions
4 September Double Star Albireo Beth Desch
11 September Planetary Nebula Tour Emily Ellis
18 September Saturn & the Moon Joseph Holmes
25 September Globular Cluster M13 Aaron Martin
Sessions continue on Fridays in October – a specific schedule will be posted later.

Our Fall Astronomy Day Lecture will be held Friday, 2 October, with observing afterward.

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