We hold public observing sessions free of charge the third Friday night of every month. The sessions start one to two hours after sunset and generally last one to two hours. You are welcome to come and go any time during the session.
In case of inclement weather, we offer planetarium shows. During sessions we utilize all four telescopes on the Valders rooftop to observe many of the objects you can see photographs of here on this web site. In addition we identify any bright stars and constellations visible.
Beginning June 2009, the sessions will go on hiatus until further notice due to construction in the science building.
We held our first session in November 2001. The May 2009 session was our 87th. Total attendance at these sessions has been approximately 3,465. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who show up for the first time each month and the distances they travel to get here. It is also a pleasure to see familiar faces return regularly.
Our greatest attendance was 180 and we had 0 on a single stormy night. In all, we have been able to be outside observing fully for 46 of the sessions, confined to the planetarium for 37 sessions and 4 sessions have had both planetarium shows and observations. For three of these sessions it started cloudy and cleared, so we switched from the planetarium to the roof. For the other session, a high haze precluded observing anything but the brightest stars, the moon and planets; we had people see these and we offered planetarium shows as well.