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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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 Sessions (Sessions Start at 7:00 p.m.)|
|3 Feb||Life of a Star||Tim Martin|
(Penumbral Lunar Eclipse during session)
|17 Feb||Open Clusters along the Winter Milky Way||Jeff Swanson|
|24 Feb||Globular Cluster M79||Kevin Erdy|
|November Sessions (Sessions start at dark unless otherwise noted)|
|3 Mar||Exoplanet Host Stars
Session starts after Pre-TriStar Public Lecture
|4 Mar||TriStar Festival of Astronomy
Observatory open for General Viewing 7-9
|10 Mar||Featured Object TBA||Alec LaGrega|
|17 Mar||Galaxies M81/M82||Brian Morris|
|24 Mar||Double Star Algieba (Gamma Leo)||Errika Wyatt|
|December Sessions (Sessions start at Dark)|
|7 Apr||StateWide Star Party Session
Science Hall Open House 6:30-8:30
|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.
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.