FALL 2019/SPRING 2020 Astronomy Observing Sessions
DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS, THE GMU OBSERVATORY IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC THROUGH SUMMER 2020
We apologize for any inconvenience.
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.
- Monday 26 August 2019: Talk by Dr. Harold Geller titled "What is a Planet? Mars, Pluto and Exoplanets as Examples" starts at 8:00 PM in Research Hall Room 163 followed by observing beginning at 8:30 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 2 September 2019: LABOR DAY HOLIDAY - SCHOOL CLOSED
- Monday 9 September 2019: Talk by Dr. Thomas Fowler titled "Choosing the best telescope for your situation: advantages, disadvantages, and tradeoffs" starts at 7:30 PM followed by observing beginning at 8:00 PM conditions perimitting.
- Monday 23 September 2019: Talk titled "Big, Bigger, Biggest in our Extreme Universe" presented by Dr. Alexander J. van der Horst of George Washington University starts at 7:00 PM followed by observing beginning at 7:30 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 7 October 2019: Talk titled "Mountains and Craters on the Moon and the Rings of Saturn" by Darryl Wilson starts at 7:00 PM followed by observing session beginning at 7:30 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 14 October 2019 -- COLUMBUS DAY HOLIDAY
- Monday 21 October 2019: Talk by Dr. Harold Geller titled 'What You Don't Know Can Kill You: The Case of Asteroids'
starts at 6:30 PM followed by observing session beginning at 7:00 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 4 November 2019: Talk titled 'This Isn't Your Grandaddy's Moon' by Greg Redfern, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, starts at 6:00 PM. Learn about the countries sending crewed and uncrewed missions to the Moon; and about how astronomers think the Moon formed and evolved, with the latest science findings. The talk will be followed by an observing
session beginning at 6:30 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 18 November 2019: Talk by Dr. Bethany Cobb Kung of George Washington University starts at 5:30 PM. The talk is titled "Shedding Light on Gravitational Waves." Dr. Cobb Kung will discuss the GW170817 binary neutron star merger event and the current search for the next electromagnetic counterpart. The talk will be followed by an observing session beginning at 6:00 PM conditions permitting.
- Thursday 28 November 2019: UNIVERSITY CLOSED -- HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
--- WINTER HOLIDAY BREAK ---
- Monday 27 January 2020: Talk by Dr. Joe Weingartner titled 'The Dusty Universe' starts at 5:30 PM followed by observing session beginning at 6:00 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 10 February 2020: Talk by Dr. Michael Summers titled 'Imagined Life: What Life might be like on Planets around Distant Stars' starts at 6:00 PM followed by observing session beginning at 6:30 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 24 February 2020: Talk starts at 6:00 PM by Dr. Shobita Satyapal on Seeing the Invisible: Hiding black holes in colliding galaxies; followed by observing session beginning at 6:30 PM conditions permitting.
- Monday 16 March 2020: Talk by Dr. Mario Gliozzi is CANCELED !!!
- Monday 30 March 2020: Talk by Dr. Peter Plavchan is CANCELED !!!
- Monday 13 April 2020: Talk by Dr. Peter A. Becker is CANCELED !!!
- Monday 27 April 2020: Talk by Dr. Harold A. Geller is CANCELED !!!
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
College of Science
Department of Physics and Astronomy
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22030