Public Viewing

PUBLIC VIEWING SESSIONS

The Cline Observatory is open to the public for viewing every clear Friday night throughout the year.

As of March 2022, sessions will be held on the outside observing pad, rather than in the observatory dome. We will have several telescopes set up for viewing a variety of objects. We plan to transition back into the dome sometime this summer.To address ongoing COVID variant concerns, sessions will be set up in a controlled manner with some COVID precautions still in place.

The viewings begin 30 to 45 minutes after sunset during March-October (determine sunset time for a particular date). Sessions usually last about two hours, but may run longer or shorter depending on interest and sky conditions. Our sessions are unstructured – there’s no program – just telescopic viewing.

Note that the observatory is open to the night air, and so will be cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Be sure to dress for the conditions.

For updates regarding how weather or other issues will affect this week’s session, check our Twitter Updates Page @gtccastro.

For other questions about the observatory and its programs, contact Tom English at trenglish@gtcc.edu or 336-334-4822, ext. 50023.

There is no charge for public night viewing and the observatory is open to anyone wishing to attend. No reservations are necessary, and there are no limits on the number of attendees. (We do ask that you let us know well ahead of time if you plan to bring a large group.)

Public Viewing Schedule

September sessions start as darkness falls on Friday evenings (approximately 8:30 p.m.), and last about two hours. Sessions are held if weather permits. We are still using some pandemic protocols at our sessions — telescopes on the observing pad. The dome area is closed. We hope to open soon!), additional precautions as necessary.

September Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program

 

2 September

The moon and planets will be featured – the waxing crescent moon will be visible throughout the session, and Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune are also visible. We'll view several deep sky objects as well.

 

9 September

The full moon will interfere with our ability to view some faint objects, but we'll try for some double stars, clusters, and nebulae as conditions allow. Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune will be featured as well.

16 September

Moon is not viewable during the session, but Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune are visible. We will also show various star clusters, nebulae, double stars, and the Andromeda Galaxy.

23 September

No session tonight. Instead watch the Virtual Exoplanet Lecture, 7:30 p.m.

 

30 September

The moon and planets will be featured – the waxing crescent moon will be visible throughout the session, and Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus are also visible. We'll view several deep sky objects as well.

Sessions will continue in October.

October sessions start as darkness falls on Friday evenings (around 8 p.m. early in the month, but shifting to just after 7 p.m. at month’s end), and last about two hours. Sessions are held if weather permits. We are still doing our primary observing using a battery of telescopes on the observing pad. The dome area is closed. We hope to open soon!.

October Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program
7 October A bright waxing gibbous moon will be visible
throughout the session. We'll also view Saturn, Jupiter and several double stars. We’ll show a few other objects (clusters, nebulae, and galaxies), but they will be somewhat limited by the bright moonlight.
14 October The moon will be out of view for most of the session, so we'll concentrate on star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and double stars. Saturn and Jupiter will be featured throughout the session.
21 October Moon is not visible, so we'll concentrate on star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and double stars. Saturn and Jupiter will be featured throughout the session.
28 October Waxing crescent moon is visible during the first part of the session. We'll also view planets and a variety of deep sky objects as conditions permit.

Sessions will continue in November.

November sessions start at 7 p.m. Friday evenings, and last about two hours. Sessions are held if weather permits. We are still doing our primary observing using a battery of telescopes on the observing pad. The dome area is closed. We hope to open soon!.

November Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program
4 November The bright moon passes near Jupiter in the sky tonight, and we will feature both during the session along with Saturn.
11 November The moon is out of view for much of the evening, but Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are all in the November sky and well-placed for viewing. We’ll also view various deep sky objects.
18 November Moon is not visible, but the outer planets are still visible. We will also show various star clusters, nebulae, double stars, and the Andromeda Galaxy.
25 November Moon is not visible during the session, so we’ll focus on the planets and various nebulae, clusters, doubles, and galaxies.

Sessions will continue in December.

Special Viewing Sessions – Eclipses, Transits, Etc.

Occasionally, Cline Observatory holds viewing sessions for special events such as eclipses, transits, or other remarkable astronomical phenomena. These sessions are presented in the same manner as our Friday public viewings, though if the situation requires, we may shift our portable telescopes to other locations on campus.

As with our Friday public viewings, all Cline Observatory special viewing sessions are free and open to anyone with an interest in astronomy.

Recent special sessions we have scheduled include:

  • Total Lunar Eclipse May 15, 2022 (cloudy)
  • Total Lunar Eclipse Jan. 20, 2019
  • Expedition to Newberry, SC for Total Solar Eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017
  • Partial Solar Eclipse Oct. 23, 2014
  • Venus Transit June 5, 2012
  • Lunar Eclipse Dec. 10, 2010 (cloudy)
  • Total Lunar Eclipse Feb. 21, 2008
  • Total Lunar Eclipse  March 3, 2007
  • Mercury Transit  Nov. 8, 2006 (cloudy)
  • Total Lunar Eclipse  Oct. 27, 2004
  • Venus Transit  June 6, 2004 (cloudy)

Transits of Venus & Mercury

Three hundred visitors came to GTCC to observe the 2012 Venus Transit – a phenomenon that will not be seen on Earth again until 2117. For more information about this event and other transits, see our Transits page.

Lunar and Solar Eclipses

Cline Observatory is open for viewing lunar and solar eclipses visible in our area. Details about upcoming eclipses will be posted on our Eclipses page.

Meteor Showers

Cline Observatory DOES NOT hold special sessions for meteor showers because they are best observed without telescopes, and are usually best seen from dark locations between midnight and dawn.

The American Meteor Society provides an annual meteor shower calendar,  guides to visual observation of meteors, and weekly updates on meteor activity.  The International Meteor Organization provides annual shower calendars, visual meteor observing resources, and regular outlooks on meteor activity.