Variable Weather - Always Check Analemma Tweets & Clear Skies Pages
The Roll-Top observatory is available to the public for viewing the skies on Friday nights:
- 7:30-9:30 PM Friday 10 November
- 7:30-9:30 PM Friday 17 November
- 7:30-9:30 PM Friday 24 November (YES, we will be open!!)
The Analemma Society holds 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 or their own binoculars for observing. There is a lot to see in the night sky. On some of our Friday Night sessions, we have had more than 100 visitors!
We will open the park to the public for observing the Geminids from 8:30 PM to Midnight on Tuesday, December 12 which is after the Parktakes Meteor Astronomy class at the Roll-Top Observatory at Turner Farm. Weather permitting of course.
And, don't forget to sign up with Fairfax County Parktakes for the following courses at Observator Park, Turner Farm:
- 7:30pm Mon 27 November Exploring the Moon 9-Adult - Geared for the Family
- 7:30pm Wed 6 December Nebulas and Clusters and Galaxies - Oh My! 6-Adult - Geared for the Family
Read the article below about these courses or read on to see what's up in the sky for Friday nights in November and December.
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. 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. Wear appropriate clothing - nights can be chilly. The Roll-Top observatory has an enclosed classroom, but the observatory room is not heated and open to the sky.
Here's what's up in the sky for November
- Planets: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune
- Double Stars: Albireo, Double-Double (Epsilon Lyrae), Almach (Gamma Andromeda), Eta Cassiopeia, Gamma Arietis
- Stars with Color: Mu Cephei (Hershel's Garnet Star), T Lyra (Carbon Star), Capella (Yellow G5 Giant), Mirach (Red Giant)
- Globular Clusters: Messier Objects M15 (Pegasus), M13 (Great Cluster in Hercules), M92,
- Open Clusters: Messier Objects, M52, NGC 7789 (Cass), Double Cluster NGC869 & 884, M45 (Pleiades)
- Planetary Nebulae:M57 (Ring Nebula in Lyra), M27 (Dumbbell Nebula), M76 (Little Dumbbell), NGC6543 (Cat's Eye)
- Bright H-II Nebulae: M17 (Swan Nebula)
- Galaxies: Messier Objects M31 (Andromeda), M32 & M110 Satellite Galaxies of Andromeda, NGC7331 (Pegasus), M74
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.
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.