Through the Fairfax County Park Authority Parktakes courses, you can take an introductory course on telescopes, learn about the Moon, 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.


The Parktakes Turner Farm Park Astronomy courses will be held whether it is clear, cloudy, or raining. All of the courses have a presentation and talk segment. The observing portion using the Roll-Top Observatory will be held to the extent permitted by the current weather conditions.


Date/Time                                Title                                                                           Ages

Wed 11/15/2017 7:30 PM       Intro to Telescopes                                                        9-Adult - Geared for the Family

Thu 11/16/2017 7 PM             Astronomy for Family Fun: Galaxies                             6-Adult - Geared for the Family

Mon 11/27/2017 7:30 PM        Exploring the Moon                                                      9-Adult - Geared for the Family

Wed 12/06/2017 7:30 PM       Astronomical Seminar & Telescope Viewing                9-Adult - Geared for the Family

Thu 12/07/2017 7 PM             Astronomy for Family Fun: Meteor Showers                 6-Adult - Geared for the Family

Tue 12/12/2017 7:30 PM         Meteor Astronomy                                                      10-Adult - Geared for the Family

You can register at:   All it takes is the sign up with Parktakes to get a member number, locate the course registration page and provide a valid email address and Visa or MasterCard.

Course Descriptions:

Astronomical Seminar and Telescope Viewing:  Instructors Analemma Society Staff

RT Telescope SingleThe Roll-Top observatory at Turner Farm will hold a classroom seminar and nighttime observing session focused on a specific astronomical topic each month.  The topics will range from planets, open clusters, double stars, stellar color spectrum, globular clusters, and galaxies.  Telescopes will be used to view the objects of the month discussed in the classroom (weather dependent).  Check the Analemma website for monthly topics (   Classes meet September 13, October 11, November 8, December 6.

Wednesday Dec 6:

Nebulas and Clusters and Galaxies, Oh My!

Instructor: Cal Powell

We are all familiar with the stars and planets that we can see when the Sun sets. However, the night sky contains many wonders that are visible with binoculars or modest telescopes. This fun and interactive presentation is designed to give the general public an introduction to the most common of these astronomical “deep sky” objects. “Nebulas and Clusters and Galaxies, Oh My!” is suitable for all ages.

Intro to Telescopes:  Instructors Analemma Society Staff

Now that you have received a new telescope, how do you set it up and use it?  Or are you considering buying a telescope?  This course goes into introductory basics of Astronomy, observing the sky, and what you need to know to setup and use your telescope.  Will provide hands-on use of telescopes and observing selected objects in the sky using the Roll-Top Observatory if the weather allows it.  Attendees can bring their own telescope for assistance and advice.  Classes meet October 18, November 15.

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.  Classes meet October 19 (Orionids meteor shower), December 12 (Geminids meteor shower).

Moon Gural 300x188Exploring the Moon: Instructor Bill Burton

The Moon is as old as the Earth, and its surface is marked by craters and lava flows billions of years old.   Explore these lunar features through a high-powered telescope and learn about their origins.   See where the Apollo lunar landings occurred, and discuss what the astronauts found.  Class will meet rain or shine with alternate viewing sessions available for cloudy days.  Classes meet October 25, November 27.

Family Fun Night at the Telescopes:  Instructors Analemma Society Staff

Wondering about the earth in space and the kinds of strange objects that make up our universe?  Then join our family introduction to Telescopes in the Roll-Top Observatory at Turner Farm Park and take a personal guided tour of the heavens and see the color of stars, open and globular clusters, nebulae and galaxies with your own eyes (dependent on the weather).  No experience required.  Class meets September 26.

AstronomyCourse Roll Top2017Astronomy for Family Fun: Various    Instructors TBD

Enjoy hands-on activities and looking through our telescopes to learn about the solar system and everything in it. Explore every corner, observe some planets (dependent on the weather), and find out why Earth is just right to support life.  September 28 - Solar System.

Enjoy hands-on activities and looking through our telescopes to explore the universe (dependent on the weather) and learn about mind-boggling phenomena and celestial happenings. A different topic each night:  October 26: Black Holes; November 6: Galaxies; December 7: Geminid Meteor Shower.