When I was hired by Montgomery College the summer of 2009, construction of the new Science Center on the Rockville campus had just begun. It looked like this:
|Photo credit to Montgomery College|
By June of 2010, the new observatory was taking shape:
|Observatory June 2010|
And by August 2010, we had walls and a roof:
|Observatory August 2010, view from Macklin Tower|
|Observatory October 2011|
The first observatory public nights I hosted were at the Macklin Tower observatory before construction was complete on the roof of the Science Center. We ran these events in a true open house style. That is, we would open for a couple of hours and guests would come any time during that two hour period. We kept to a regular schedule of first and third Fridays of the month, weather permitting. Once the new observatory was ready for guests, we took the same approach.
Happily, the public nights were a success. We had a good showing of guests from the college and local community. We were so successful in fact, that we were in danger of exceeding the fire marshal occupancy limit!
I've run a grand total of two guest nights using the reservation paradigm, similar to what we did at UNC. With the support of the Physics & Engineering Department and college administration (thanks!), as well as the dedication of the MC Stargazers club (major thanks!), we're going to give this method a go on a regular schedule.
As we transition to this new approach, I'd like to thank you for your patience and understanding. We're working to make the observatory nights a fun, educational, and engaging experience for everyone. Suggestions are welcome. All of us involved in putting together these events do so on a volunteer basis. (Myself included- I'm a full-time faculty member and any observatory work is in addition to my duties as an associate professor.) It's definitely a labor of love. There are few things I enjoy more than sharing what I know about the universe.
The new schedule is posted on the Event Schedule page. You can make reservations via EventBrite here. My contact information is here. Please feel free to let me know how we can make the observatory nights better, as well as letting me know the things you really like about the events!
Looking forward to seeing you at the observatory.