Monday, April 28, 2014

Summer Guest Night Schedule

We have the dates pinned down for the Summer Observatory Guest Nights! Yay! Reservations can be made on the Eventbrite website. Please note that the schedule departs a bit from the first and third Friday of the month in June and July.

The first Friday in June is 6 June, and that is Astronomy Night on the National Mall. The MC Rockville folks will be joining forces with our esteemed colleague from the Takoma Park / Silver Spring campus, Dr. Harold Williams. We will be there with telescopes and binoculars. Hopefully it will be clear!

In July, the first Friday is the fourth of July holiday, so there will be no observatory night. I still want to have two guest nights that month, but they will be held on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month. Things are normal for August.

Summer Guest Night Schedule:

Friday 20 June 2014 : 9:30 PM - 10:30 PM

Friday 11 July 2014 : 9:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Friday 25 July 2014 : 9:30 PM - 10:30 PM

Friday 1 August 2014 : 9:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Friday 15 August 2014 : 9:30 PM - 10:30 PM

Please note the later start. Civil twilight ends around 9 PM during the summer months and we want it to be nice and dark.

Make your reservation here at Eventbrite.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Been to an MC Observatory Guest Night? How did you like it?

Today I used the eventbrite software to send out an email to recent attendees of our Observatory Guest Nights at MC requesting feedback in survey form. I think I was able to successfully email folks who had already been to the guest nights, and not folks who are coming in the future. Long story medium, I may have missed some people, so posting a link to the (anonymous) survey again here:

MC Guestnight Survey

If you've been to a guest night, please let me know what you think. This is the first semester we have offered observatory guest nights in an official capacity at the new Science Center, and now that we've had a few months of guest nights, I am hoping to get some feedback so that we can continue to make them better.

It is a real joy to be able to share my enthusiasm for astronomy and the night sky with the college and local community. I really want to make the observatory experience at MC the best I possibly can, and your input will help a lot.

As an incentive, doing the survey will give you the chance to win an "MC Stargazer" tee shirt. You may have seen me or the astronomy club students sporting them during our events. The shirts are black with the MC Stargazer club logo in purple and white. (The shirts are American Apparel brand, made in the USA.) Please respond before 2 May 2014 to get entered for the shirt.

Here's the survey link again:

MC Guestnight Survey

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April events at the MC Observatory

It's finally starting to feel like Spring! I am very much looking forward to warmer nights at the observatory as we move into April and May. All we need are clear skies!

Events in April include the observatory guest nights on Friday 4 April and Friday 18 April, as well as solar observing on Rockville Science Day, Sunday 6 April. (The Sun sets a bit later now, so note that the guest nights begin at 9PM.)

Observatory Guest Night : Friday 4-Apr-2014, 9-10PM
Rockville Science Day : Sunday 6-Apr-2014, noon-5PM
Observatory Guest Night : Friday 18-Apr-2014, 9-10PM

As I write this Thursday afternoon, the weather for tomorrow night doesn't look promising. As always we'll be here regardless of what Mother Nature gives us, but if it is too cloudy or rainy to observe the skies, I'll give a brief presentation followed by a tour the observatory. We'll also have smaller telescopes set up inside the Science Center for guests experiment with. The MC Astronomy Club will be on hand with me to answer questions about the universe and everything else.

April / May 2014 Starmap

A few people have asked me for the starmaps we hand out on the observatory guest nights. I just put together the latest one for April and May 2014. So here you go:

MCAO April / May Starmap

The starmap itself is from the heavens-above website, as are the dates for planetary oppositions and elongations. The additional sky and planet information is obtained from Stellarium. (I simply set the location to Rockville and look at the sky throughout the relevant months with an eye towards interesting groupings of the Moon and planets.) The meteor shower dates are obtained from EarthSky.

I hope you enjoy!