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.

April, 2017

April Sessions (Sessions start at Dark)
7 Apr Statewide Star Party Session
Science Hall Open House 6:00-8:30
Dennis Hands
14 Apr Galaxies M81/M82 Aaron Martin
21 Apr Life of a Star – Observing Begins After NC Science Festival Stellar Society Lecture:  Supernovae David Connor
28 Apr Beehive Cluster Brian Morris

May, 2017

May Sessions (Sessions Start at Dark)
5 May Globular Cluster M3 Alec LaGrega
12 May 5 Moons Tim Martin
19 May A Tour of Astronomical Firsts Jeff Regester
26 May In a Distant Galaxy… Joseph Holmes

June, 2017

June Sessions (Sessions Start at Dark)
2 Jun Jupiter Beth Desch
9 Jun Summer Double Stars Kevin Erdy
16 Jun M104 – the Sombrero Galaxy Jeff Swanson
23 Jun M64 – the Black Eye Galaxy Hank Corbett
30 Jun Cat’s Eye Nebula Errika Wyatt

July, 2017

July Sessions Sessions (Sessions Start at Dark)
7 Jul Mar The Moon Dennis Hands
11 Jul Featured Object TBA
18 Jul Featured Object TBA
25 Jul Featured Object TBA
Sessions continue in August

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.