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FALL 2018/SPRING 2019 Astronomy Observing Sessions

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Check back often to see changes in scheduling due to weather or other reasons.

Also see us at:
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Twitter: @GMUObservatory
Twitter: @AstroBioProf

The George Mason University Observatory at the Fairfax Campus building Research Hall formerly known as Research I (see campus map here) 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. To learn more about the observatory visit the observatory website.


Remember: Check here about 1 hour before coming to Research Hall in the event of clouds/rain/other reasons for cancellation.

  • Monday 28 January 2019: Talk by Dr. Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Sciences about The Search for Life Beyond Earth starts at 5:30 PM followed by observing session beginning at 6:00PM conditions permitting.

  • Monday 11 February 2019: Talk by Dr. Michael Summers of George Mason University starts at 6:00 PM followed by observing session beginning at 6:30PM conditions permitting.
  • Monday 25 February 2019: Talk by Greg Redfern, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador starts at 6:00 PM followed by observing session beginning at 6:30PM conditions permitting.

    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.


    Please attend for your own enjoyment! All are invited, so bring a friend.

    Dr. Harold Geller
    Observatory Director
    College of Science
    Department of Physics and Astronomy
    George Mason University
    4400 University Drive
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030