Analemma Society Programs
Friday night public observing sessions at Observatory Park will resume this week with scheduled sessions on October 14, 21, 28. The Roll-Top Observatory building is NOT yet ready for use, so these sessions will be held on the field near the parking lot. We will announce when the Roll-Top observatory is ready to open for Friday night observing sessions.
For the remaining Fridays in October, the public observing sessions will be from 7 to 9:30 PM. Telescopes will be provided, although you are welcome to bring your own telescope and set up on the field with us. The telescopes will be set up on the field inside the fence on the north side of the parking lot at the park. Park in the parking lot and walk through the center gate in the fence to the telescopes. Please put your headlights on low when entering the parking lot.
The planets Mars and Saturn will be visible for observing in the early evening along with the double stars, star clusters, nebulas, galaxies that are present in the early Fall sky. These public observing sessions are open to all. We get everyone from families with older kids, families with young children, individuals, couples, students attending these public sessions.
This event is very weather dependent. Please check the Analemma tweet page on the website for updates on Friday if the weather looks questionable for that night."
Amid the rain and cloudy skies, on Saturday October 1st, 2016, a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the Roll-Top Observatory at Observatory Park, Turner Farm in Great Falls, VA. Tim Hackman, Dranesville District representative of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board, introduced all those who made the Roll-Top observatory possible through public-community-and-private funding. Initiated in 2007 in collaboration with the Analemma Society, the million-dollar facility was funded in part by the 2008 and 2012 Park Bonds, telecommunications funds, Mastenbrook grant money and a donation provided by Jean and Rick Edelman through the Fairfax County Park Foundation.
Ground breaking for Roll-Top began in 2014 and over the next two years the Roll-Top Observatory design by architects Shaffer Wilson Sarver & Gray of Herndon, VA, was carried out by the construction company Brown and Root of Arlington, VA.
Inside the Roll-Top Observatory a plaque was unveiled stating that the telescopes are made possible through the generosity Jean and Ric Edelman and members of the Analemma Society.
The Roll-Top Observatory will have three telescopes with room for a fourth: an 11-inch aperture Celestron, a 16-inch Newtonian, and a 7-inch Astro-Physics Refractor, all on adjustable height mounts. Beside the observing area underneath a retractable roof, there is an orientation room that will serve as an instructional space for education programs. Beginning this fall, the Analemma Society will provide public Friday night viewing and begin next spring, the Roll-Top Observatory will be the center for public classes on astronomy, sundials, observing meteors, and related STEM subjects.
In the early 1990's the site now known as Turner Farm was a Nike Missile Site. When the Defense Mapping Agency closed the site, Charles Olin lobbied FCPA and the community of Great Falls to turn the site into Observatory Park.
In comments at the ceremony, Charles recalled the Turner Farm Conceptual Development Plan approved by FCPA in July, 2000. This visionary plan called for a celestial observatory, radio telescope, support building for education and interpretive center, an international sundial garden representing sundials of different times and cultures, and a scale model of the solar system. Over the last 16 years significant elements of the plan have been implemented, with a great step forward in the completion of the Roll-Top Observatory. But there is still much to be done. Equipment for the Roll-Top must be installed and calibrated; the Remote Access Telescope Observatory needs to become a truly remoted asset for teachers and students of Fairfax County. There is still a Radio Telescope to complete, a Cosmic Ray Observatory to build, the design and construction of the Ibn al Shatir sundial and many other dials, quadrants and astrolabes for the sundial garden.
At the dedication, the words of Charles Olin's vision written in the FCPA master plan were reiterated: "The views through a telescope stimulate our imagine in a way nothing else can. Children who grow up being able to see these views will be indelibly enriched; this experience will live with them throughout their life. In this age of outer space travel, our future depends upon an appreciation and understanding of our celestial neighbors. This unique opportunity is available on this site."
FRIDAY SEPT 23rd 7:30-10pm
Check this website for updates (Analemma Tweets)
Observatory Park is scheduled to be open for a Friday night public observing session on September 23, 2016 from 7:30 to 10 PM. Telescopes will be provided, although you are welcome to bring your own telescope and set up on the field with us.
The telescopes will be set up on the field inside the fence on the north side of the parking lot at Observatory. Park your car the parking lot and walk through the center gate in the fence to the telescopes. Please put your headlights on low when entering the parking lot at Turner Farm.
The planets Mars and Saturn will be visible for observing along with double stars, star clusters, nebulas, galaxies present in the late summer sky. Saturn is a must see if you have never observed it through a good telescope. These public observing sessions are open to all. We get everyone from families with children of all ages, individuals, couples, and students attending these public sessions.
These events are very weather dependent. Please check the Analemma Tweets page on this website or tweets @AnalemmaSociety for updates on Friday if the weather looks questionable before coming to the park.
We have had good attendance during the Friday night observing sessions this summer. Come and enjoy the stars with us. A simple handheld camera at the eyepiece of a telescope makes everyone an astrophotographer. Come out and try your astrophotography skills.
Come join the Analemma Society and the Fairfax County Park Authority on Saturday Oct 1st, 2016 at 10am when the FCPA will dedicate the Roll-Top Observatory and Classroom. The dedication will be at Observatory Park of Turner Farm Park at 925 Springvale Road in Great Falls Firginia. For more information, contact the Public Information Office of FPCA at 703-324-8662.
From the September 2016 eNewsletter of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) is the following (photo from the Analemma Society):
'With the help of a very generous donation from Jean and Ric Edelman the Park Authority was able to build and furnish a roll top observatory building at Observatory Park at Turner Farm. The financial services radio talk show host was reminded of his childhood fascination with astronomy when someone gave him a 10-inch telescope to commemorate his 40th birthday. Edelman and his wife and business partner, Jean, share a passion for astronomy and are deeply committed to sharing the knowledge with younger generations."
"The Edelmans substantial contribution to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to fund Observatory Park is greatly appreciated. They will join Analemma Society members and other supporters at the ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 AM on October 1, 2016. The park is located at 925 Springvale Road in Great Falls, VA."
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