Analemma Society Programs
UPDATE -The Roll-Top Observatory is back in service
The Roll-Top observatory is available to the public for viewing the skies on Friday nights March 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st, weather permitting. The Analemma Society will hold these Friday Night Public Viewing Sessions at Turner Farm in Great Falls, VA. With the Roll-Top operational, volunteers will be available to help the public use the newly mounted telescopes.
We continue to invite the public to bring their own telescopes and set up outside the Roll-Top. There is a lot to see in the winter sky.
Please double check the weather and sky before attending. Check our Observing page for the Clear Sky Chart and Analemma Tweets for last minute messages.
The public observing sessions for February are from 7:30 to 9:30 PM. Bundle up with warm clothing - It may be March, but winter weather is here. The Roll-Top observatory has an enclosed classroom, but the observatory room is not heated and open to the sky.
There are 4 telescopes set up for viewing in the Roll-Top observatory including a 7" high quality refractor. For public sessions, we may also have telescopes set up outside the building along the walkway to look through. Members of the public are welcome to bring their own telescopes and set them up as well. If you bring your own telescope
equipment and have not been at one of our public sessions before, we recommend you contact one of the volunteers first upon arrival so we can guide you on where to set up.
When you pull into the access road leading into the park, follow the road to the parking lot that will be to the left. Please put your headlights on low when entering the parking lot. All visitors must park in the parking lot. Enter through the pedestrian gate in the Northwest corner of the parking lot and follow the walkway up to the Roll-Top building (the squat building with the moveable roof). For public sessions, the Analemma Society will have a coordinator present to greet people and provide directions. But if the coordinator is busy or providing assistance inside the building, enter through the gray door on the walkway side of the Roll-Top building.
The planets Venus and Mars are visible for observing in the evening during March. The Orion nebula (M42), the
Pleiades (M45), the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and other Messier objects M79 (a globular cluster), M45 (an open star cluster), and M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy...first sketched by Lord Rosse in 1845) are all up for viewing. The constellations of Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Orion, Taurus, Gemini are prominent in the evening sky.
These public observing sessions are open to all. We get everyone from families with older kids, families with young children, individuals, couples, and students attending these public sessions.
These events are very weather dependent. Please check the Analemma tweet page on this website (or directly at @AnalemmaSociety ) for updates on Friday viewing if the weather looks questionable.
NRL Galactic Radiation Background (GRAB) Satellite
and JHU-APL Transit II-A Navigation Satellite
carrying first "digital clock" June 22, 1960
The Fairfax County Park Authority, Analemma Society and Great Falls Library have teamed up to present a two-part lecture series, “From Sundials to Satellites to GPS,” on April 6 and May 4, 2017. Talks will be held in the library’s meeting room from 7 to approximately 8:30 p.m.
On April 6, Stephen Malys of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will speak on the topic “Journey to the Center of the Earth-Status of the Terrestrial Reference Frame.” The program will review progress in the past 2,000 years in charting earth’s measurements, starting with the age when sundials and trigonometry were considered high tech.
On May 4, Paul Ceruzzi of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum lectures on “Not just GPS: Why Russians, the European Union, China, and India are building satellite navigation systems, and what that means for the U.S. Global Positioning System.” Ceruzzi will give a brief history of GPS and show how it has grown far beyond the expectations of its creators.
The lectures are free, and no registration is required. Participants are invited to attend one or both talks. This program ties into activities at the Park Authority’s Observatory Park at Turner Farm. The International Sundial Garden at Observatory Park is part of the Turner Farm Conceptual Development Plan and the first sundial, the Jamestown Commemorative Sundial, was installed in 2007. The Army Map Service/Defense Mapping Agency activity that was at the site from 1963 to 1993 was a Satellite Tracking Branch whose work was important to the development of GPS.
Great Falls Library is located at 9830 Georgetown Pike in Great Falls, VA. For more information about the lecture program, contact Daniela Dixon at 703-757-8560.
Through the FCPA Parktakes courses, you can take an introductory course on telescopes, learn about the history of sundials and make your own sundial, or you can learn about the physics of meteors ("shooting stars") and techniques to observe them.
The courses will be given at Turner Farm (Observatory Park) in the new Roll-Top Observatory.
Code Date/Time Title Ages
7051807102 Tue 2/21/2017 7:30pm Intro to Telescopes 7-Adult
7052807101 Tue 3/28/2017 7:30pm Intro to Telescopes 7-Adult
7052807102 Tue 4/18/2017 7:30pm Intro to Telescopes 7-Adult
7052807201 Wed 4/19/2017 7:30pm Spring Meteor Astronomy I 10-Adult
7052807201 Wed 5/17/2017 7:30pm Spring Meteor Astronomy II 10-Adult
7052807201 Wed 6/14/2017 7:30pm Spring Meteor Astronomy III 10-Adult
7052807301 Sat 3/25/2017 10:am Intro to Sundials I 16-Adult
7052807401 Sat 4/08/2017 10:am Intro to Sundials II 16-Adult
7051080501 Sat 3/18/2017 6:pm Astronomy for Family Fun 5-Adult
You can register at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes/
All it takes to sign up with Parktakes is to get a member number, fill in the Course code (from above) and provide a valid email address and Visa or MasterCard.
Spring Meteor Astronomy: Instructor Peter S. Gural (Senior Scientist, Leidos)
Couse covers basic meteor astronomy including meteor phenomena and when they can be seen, fireball reporting and simple visual observing techniques. Learn about automated observations using affordable video cameras. Course also covers advanced techniques using radar, radio, infrasound and spectroscopy. Optional outdoor visual observing sessions after class weather permitting; bring a lawn chair and warm cover/sleeping bag. Class meets Apr 19, May 17 and June 14.
Introduction to Sundials: Instructor Robert Kellogg (Boeing Technical Fellow)
Learn about the world's oldest clocks. Explore the history of sundials and solar alignments from Newgrange to modern sundials to digital sundials. Learn about Pythagoras and the beauty of triangles and proportions which lead to basic trigonometry. Use simple trigonometry to draw a horizontal sundial. Class includes a half hour break. Second session: Tour the Jamestown Sundial located at Observatory Park of Turner Farm and learn about it and its history. Use software to explore the mathematics of vertical declining dials and design your own sundial. Class meets March 25 and Apr 8.
Intro to Telescopes: Instructor Alan Figgatt
Now that you have received a new telescope, our even a good pair of binoculars, how do you set it up and use it to find the wonders of the night sky? This course goes into quick basics of astronomy and what you need to know to setup and use your telescope. Course content depends on telescope type. If weather permits, the course will include observing selected objects in the sky using the roll-top observatory. You can bring your own telescope to class. Children must be accompanied by an adult registered in the program. One session class repeated Feb 21, March 28, and May 18.
Astronomy for Family Fun: Instructor Tammy Schwab
Learn about the moon and do fun activities and crafts that will help demystify the moon and "bring it down to earth." Children must be accompanied by an adult registered in the program. Class meets March 18.
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."
Ever wonder what telescope to buy? Refractor, Reflector ... Big Scope or a Little Scope ... Dobsonian Mount ... or maybe just a good pair of binoculars and a star catalog. As they say, this isn't rocket science. Here's an excellent article: So You Wanna Buy a Telescope - Advice For Beginners by Ed Ting. Ed walks through the type of telescopes and eyepieces and even the types of binoculars that will help you get started with a great view of the sky.
"The simplicity part is important...Beginners need early success, and the 6" or 8" aperture is big enough to throw up a bright image of most common celestial objects." Read it all in Ed Ting's article.
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