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.
by Dr. Jeffrey L. Kretsch
I have watched and logged various atmospheric phenomena for over forty years and have enjoyed pointing them out to others. Going beyond rainbows, for the first ten years I noted rings (halos) and sundogs, and I had read about the many other atmospheric phenomena. Although I kept a log, I never noted more than rings and sundogs until a day in October 1981 when I saw a full display of rings, arcs, and the circumzenithal arc. Upon seeing those I started keeping a closer look at the sky and starting seeing other sunlight phenomena, some fairly frequently.
You learn to see. I hope in this brief article to help others to see these more often. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive review of the phenomena as so many have done before (see references for some examples). I hope by this short article to have people use those moments when walking outside to briefly scan the sky and maybe catch a glimpse of sun arcs and other parahelic phenomena. Looking at what nature has to offer is inspiring. Take interest in the open air sunlight and see what beauty it has to offer.
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."
During the day on May 9th, the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the sun. The planet will be visible in telescopes properly equipped for solar observing as a small black dot moving across the sun. The transit will begin at 7:12 AM EST and will last until 2:42 PM. Transits of Mercury are not as rare as Venus, but they are infrequent; the last one was in 2006 and the next transit of Mercury will occur in November, 2019.
Observatory Park in Great Falls, Virginia will be open to the public for the transit from 7 AM to 3 PM. We will have telescopes with solar filters to properly observe the sun and the transit. Please stop by to observe part of the transit and any visible sunspots. DO NOT TRY TO OBSERVE THE TRANSIT WITHOUT PROPER SUN FILTERS. YOU CAN BE PERMANENTLY BLINDED.
For more information on the 2016 transit of Mercury, Sky and Telescope magazine has a helpful on-line article:
Other observing locations in western Maryland from the Westminister Astronomical Society include:
NOTE: THE ROLL-TOP OBSERVATORY IS NEARING COMPLETION. WE BEGIN THE FALL OPSERVING SEASON AT OBSERVATORY PARK WITH AN OBSERVING SESSION ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23rd.
Observatory Park is open to the public for viewings of the night sky every Friday night beginning at sunset, weather permitting. Weather and sky conditions can be monitored by viewing the weather watch on our home page and by viewing our clear sky clock. To determine whether it is a good night to come out, here is the rule of thumb we go by:
- If you can see clouds, no
- If you can see stars, yes
Please feel free to bring telescopes and cameras. You may also want to bring chairs or blankets and snacks. We usually stay out for about an hour, starting at sunset. Please remember to help keep our park clean so that everyone may enjoy it.
Pictures can be submitted to our webmaster to be posted on this site.
We hope you will join us and enjoy the view!