Friday, October 6, 2017

Observatory night for Friday 6-Oct-2017 cancelled due to clouds

For folks who have registered for tonight, the event is cancelled. I've been watching the satellite, and it doesn't look like the sky is going to clear anytime soon.
There are still a few openings in the Fall 2017 November events, and the wait list does work!

Also, you can receive email updates about new events by selecting "Follow by Email" (upper portion of menu on the right). If you're worried about too many emails, please know that I post infrequently..

Thank you so much for your interest in astronomy and our observatory!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Event Schedule for Fall 2017

Fall 2017 dates for Observatory Guest Nights are below.

Here's hoping for clear skies!

Friday 1 September 2017 : 8 - 9 PM
Friday 15 September 2017 : 8 - 9 PM

Friday 6 October 2017 : 8 - 9 PM
Friday 20 October 2017 : 8 - 9 PM

Friday 3 November 2017 : 8 - 9 PM
Friday 17 November 2017 : 8 - 9 PM

Because of occupancy limitations on the roof, we require guests to make reservations via Eventbrite (

Please note:

Events will be cancelled for bad weather. I will make the call as soon as I am able, usually about 2 hours prior to the event start time. An announcement will be sent to the email address you registered with Eventbrite, and I will post the status on this website.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Solar eclipse events

Happy August everyone! Below please find information on the solar eclipse event at Montgomery College. I've also included a list of August events at the nearby Latitude Observatory in Gaithersburg, MD.

Montgomery College will be hosting an eclipse event event at our Takoma Park campus on Monday 21 August 2017 from 12:30 to 3:00 PM.

During the eclipse, we will connect to sites that are in totality and project the event on to the planetarium dome for viewing. Dr. Harold Williams will also present a planetarium show explaining eclipses and occultations. If it is clear we will have telescopes set up outside to view the partial phases of the eclipse safely.

The event is free and open to the public. Additional details can be found on the Montgomery College Planetarium webpage. I hope you can join us!

The Latitude Observatory in Gaithersburg is hosting the following events in August:

  • Saturday 12 August 2017Perseids Meteor Shower (8:00 PM to 1:00 AM) Bring blankets and chairs to sit or lie out on the lawn watching for meteors.
  • Sunday 20 August 2017Preview Screening of "The Farthest: Voyager in Space", from HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, is a beautiful new PBS documentary highlighting the story of the Voyager missions. Movie is from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Tickets will be distributed starting at 2:00 PM. Arts Barn, 311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg, Md.
  • 21 Monday August 2017Solar Eclipse Party (12:30 to 4:30 PM) An afternoon of solar related activities and solar observations as well as safe solar viewers for participants.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

"Love is in the Stars" - MC article on about our observatory

Montgomery College just put out a nice article about our observatory nights. You can find it here.

"Love is in the Stars"

Observing log for 30 June 2017

The towering cumulus clouds stayed southwest of Rockville and the sky cleared! Seeing wasn't great, but we did manage to observe the following objects:

Overall, not a bad night. Thank you everyone for your patience with the weather and the fantastic questions. It's an honor to get to share the observatory and night sky with you.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

June / July Starmap

The starmap for June and July is here: MCAO June / July Starmap.

I create these maps using the wonderful website and Stellarium software. (Stellarium is a free planetarium software program. If you'd like to know what's up in the sky, I highly recommend it!)

Observing Log for 2 June 2017

Skies were clear and beautiful last night! We observed the following objects:

  • Jupiter (planet) : Jupiter was easy to find between the Moon and the bright star Spica. It will be even closer to the Moon tonight (Saturday 3 June). We were able to make out cloud bands on the planet and the four Galilean satellites- Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
  • M13, (the Hercules cluster): We also looked at the globular cluster, M13. M13 can be found in the constellation of Hercules and is about 25,000 light-years from Earth.
  • M57 (the Ring Nebula): Next up was M57, a planetary nebula. M57 can be found in the constellation of Lyra and is located about 2,300 light-years from Earth. Planetary nebulae are the remnants of lower mass stars after they've used up their nuclear fuel. The Ring Nebula is a particularly beautiful example.
  • M3 (globular cluster) : We also looked at a second globular cluster, M3. This cluster can be found in the constellation Canes Venatici (the hunting dogs), and is about 33,900 light-years from Earth.
  • Mizar (double star) : With the smaller telescope, we split the double star Mizar in the constellation Ursa Major.
  • ε Lyrae (double star) : We also looked at the "double double" star in the constellation Lyra.
  • .
Thank you everyone for attending the event last night, and for your interest in the Montgomery College Observatory.