FALL 2015 Astronomy Observing Sessions
Check back often to see changes in scheduling due to weather or other reasons.
Also see us at:
The George Mason University Observatory at the Fairfax Campus building
Research Hall formerly known as Research I (see campus map
officially opened 24 January 2007.
No one is allowed on the roof without
authority of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
There will be a number of informal night sky observing sessions
scheduled this semester.
Attendance at these sessions is open to all
students, faculty, staff and the interested public. The primary telescope used in the observatory atop the pier is the new 0.8m (~32") Ritchey-Chretien telescope. There is a 12 inch
Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope used on the patio that
provides good views of
the sky as well.
We still possess the 6" refractor originally built by GMU students in 1975 (it is on display in the glass alcove).
Please note that the observing session will be canceled
if the sky is more than half overcast one hour before the session is
scheduled to begin, or if it is too windy (>30mph) to open the observatory dome. If in doubt,
check weather forecast here or
here, and check the Clear Sky Chart for the area and check back on this webpage before scheduled observing sessions.
The location of the observing sessions is the observatory at Research Hall.
Access to the observatory is limited. Guests will be met in Research Hall lobby by the main elevators. If you are late, you can stay by the elvators and someone will meet you, after you call the observatory at 703-993-9558 and have been acknowledged by observatory personnel.
The observing sessions
will begin near the times indicated below
and will last approximately 1.5 hours weather permitting.
NOTE: The observatory deck has very rough flooring. Guests are advised to WEAR ONLY CLOSED TOED SHOES. NO SANDALS or other open toed shoes.
The sessions are currently scheduled for specific MONDAY EVENINGS.
learn more about the observatory visit the observatory website.
Observing Session Schedule - SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE:
Remember: Check here about 1 hour before coming to Research Hall in the event of clouds/rain/other reasons for cancellation.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no more scheduled observing sessions until the SPRING semester begins.
- Monday 31 August 2015:Dr. Michael Summers talked about the latest results from the New Horizons mission to Pluto. About 120 people in attendance. After talk there was an observing session beginning at 8PM.
- Monday 7 September 2015: LABOR DAY HOLIDAY - SCHOOL CLOSED
- Monday 14 September 2015: Dr. Melissa Trainer talked about Searching for Habitable Environments on Mars with Curiosity. About 50 in attendance followed by observing.
- Monday 28 September 2015: CANCELLED
- Monday 5 October 2015: Dr. Geller spoke about the "Search for Life in the Solar System" starting at 7PM followed by observing at 7:30PM. About 65 people in attendence.
- Monday 12 October 2015 -- COLUMBUS DAY HOLIDAY SCHOOL CLOSED
- Monday 19 October 2015: Talk at 6:30PM by Dr Sergio Dieterich, Carnegie Institute of Science, "Understanding our Smallest and Closest Stellar Neighbors"
followed by observing session. About 75 people in attendance.
- Monday 2 November 2015: CANCELED due to weather forecast and request of speaker (who will speak next week regardless of weather).
- Monday 9 November 2015: Talk by Ashwin Shenoy of George Washington University on "Gamma-Ray Burst Astronomy" started at 5:45PM due to technical difficulties. There was no observing session due to rain. Attendees numbered ~20.
- Monday 16 November 2015: Talk by Neil Gehrels on "Time Domain Astronomy" started at 5PM followed by observing
session beginning at 5:30PM. ~65 guests attended.
- 26 Thursday 2015: UNIVERSITY CLOSED -- HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
- Monday 30 November 2015: Talk by Michael Summers about "New Horizons: Mission to Pluto" starts at 6PM for the general public and 7PM for "future astronomers" followed by observing session beginning at 6:30PM or 7:30PM weather permitting.
- Monday 7 December 2015: Talk starts at 6PM followed by observing session beginning at 6:30PM weather permitting IF AND ONLY IF 26 November session is cancelled.
ENJOY the WINTER HOLIDAYS and BREAK from classes
PLEASE NOTE: If these dates are not convenient, or if you live in Maryland, or if you'd just like more observing opportunities, you may want to consider visiting the University of Maryland College Park Observatory. The director of the observatory is Elizabeth Warner, and she runs many great programs at the UMCP observatory.
ALSO NOTE: If you have the time, and the interest in more details about research in astrophysics, come join in our Astrophysics Journal Club.
Please attend for your own enjoyment! All are invited, so bring a friend.
Dr. Harold Geller
College of Science
School of Physics, Astronomy and Computational Science
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22030