FALL 2014 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 25 August 2014: Dr. Harold Geller, Observatory Director, gave first talk this semeter regarding search for life on Mars and in the Milky Way Galaxy. About 65 people listened to talk and then observe through university telescope planets Mars and Saturn, and some nebulae.
- Monday 1 September 2014: LABOR DAY HOLIDAY - SCHOOL CLOSED
- Monday 8 September 2014: CANCELED due to weather.
- Monday 15 September 2014: Dr Joleen Carlberg spoke about the fiery fate of exoplanets. About 25 in attendance, but skies too cloudy for observing anything other than the telescope itself.
- Monday 22 September 2014: "Detecting Exoplanets Through Microlensing Using the WideField Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)" by Sean Terry and Ryan Pfeifle was attended by ~50 persons. Observing began at 8:30PM but was shortened by incoming bank of clouds.
- Monday 6 October 2014: Talk titled "Count Your Lucky Stars" by Nicholas Troup, University of Virginia starts at 7:30PM. Observing begins at 8PM. Weather Permitting.
- Monday 13 October 2014: COLUMBUS DAY HOLIDAY - SCHOOL CLOSED.
- Monday 20 October 2014: CANCELLED due to clouds and forecast of even more clouds.
- Monday 27 October 2014: Talk by Jess O'Connor of GMU about "Monsters in the Centers of Galaxies" was heard by about 50 people. Observing began at 8PM.
- Monday 3 November 2014: Talk titled "What Does Data Look Like" by Sylvia Zhu and Turner Gillespie (UMCP) started at 6:30PM and was attended by about 65 guests. Observing began at 7PM and the waxing gibbous Moon was the main attraction.
- Monday 17 November 2014: CANCELLED due to rain and forecast of clouds afterwards.
- Monday 24 November 2014: About 25-30 guests heard Rob Coyne talk on gravitational waves. Observing began at 6:30PM.
- 27 Thursday 2014: UNIVERSITY CLOSED -- HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
- Monday 1 December 2014: CANCELLED due to forecast of 95% cloud cover and possibility of rain.
- Monday 8 December 2014: Talk started at 5:30PM on the teaching of astronomy. Due to clouds there was no observing, but ~10 guests were shown the observatory and its large telescope.
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