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, 2018

January Sessions (Sessions Start at 7PM)
Date Featured Object Host
5 Jan Astronomical Firsts Jeff Regester
12 Jan Winter Double Stars Errika Wyatt
19 Jan M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy Hank Corbett
26 Jan The Moon Dennis Hands
Sessions continue in February
(7PM Start)

February 2018

February Sessions (Sessions Start at 7PM)
Date Featured Object Host
2 Feb M42 – the Orion Nebula Tim Martin
9 Feb The Perseus Double Cluster David Connor
16 Feb The Christmas Tree Cluster Brian Morris
23 Feb The Eskimo Nebula Beth Desch

March, 2018

March Sessions Sessions (Sessions Start at Dark)
Date Featured Object Host
2 Mar Sirius
Viewing begins after Lecture
Jeff Swanson
3 Mar TriStar Regional Astronomy Event
9 Mar Open Cluster M35 Kevin Erdy
16 Mar Galaxies M81/M82 Aaron Martin
23 Mar Double Star Iota Cancri Christina Guzik
30 Mar Open Cluster NGC 2362 Alec LaGrega

April, 2018

April Sessions (Sessions start at Dark)
Date Featured Object Host
6 Apr Featured Object TBA Jeff Regester
13 Apr Stellar Society Lecture
Session begins after the talk
Host TBA
20 Apr Statewide Star Party
Session begins after Science Hall Open House
Host TBA
27 Apr Featured Object TBA Host 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.