Public Viewing

PUBLIC VIEWING SESSIONS

The Cline Observatory is open to the public for viewing every clear Friday night throughout the year.

We have resumed our Friday night public viewing sessions as of July 2021. For the moment, sessions will be held on the outside observing pad, rather than in the observatory dome. We will have several telescopes set up for viewing a variety of objects. To address ongoing COVID variant concerns, sessions will be set up in a controlled manner, and telescopes will be sanitized between observers. Although this event is outdoors, there will be times that people are in close proximity. Because of this, we highly recommend that participants wear masks during sessions. 

The viewings begin a half hour after sunset during March-October (determine sunset time for a particular date) and at 7:00 pm during November-February. Sessions usually last about two hours, but may run longer or shorter depending on interest and sky conditions. Our sessions are unstructured – there’s no program – just telescopic viewing.

Note that the observatory is open to the night air, and so will be cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Be sure to dress for the conditions.

For updates regarding how weather or other issues will affect this week’s session, check our Twitter Updates Page @gtccastro.

For other questions about the observatory and its programs, contact Tom English at trenglish@gtcc.edu or 336-334-4822 Ext. 50023.

There is no charge for public night viewing and the observatory is open to anyone wishing to attend. No reservations are necessary, and there are no limits on the number of attendees. (We do ask that you let us know well ahead of time if you plan to bring a large group.)

Public Viewing Schedule

July sessions start Friday evenings as darkness falls – approximately half an hour after sunset. Determine sunset time for a particular date. Sessions are held if weather permits.  All observations will be held on the outside observing pad – the dome area is currently closed.

July Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program
16 July Moon, Venus & Mars (at start), summer star clusters & double stars, plus a few nebulae & galaxies if conditions allow.
23 July The bright moon and hazy summer skies will limit some of the faint objects that can be viewed, but we’ll look at several double stars and bright star clusters, plus Venus at the start of the session.
30 July Moon not visible.  Venus viewable early in the session.  Assorted Clusters, Nebulae, Double Stars and Galaxies (as conditions permit).

Sessions will continue in August.

August sessions start Friday evenings as darkness falls – approximately half an hour after sunset (close to 9 early in the month, and around 8:30 by the end of the month). Determine sunset time for a particular date. Sessions are held if weather permits.

August Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program
6 August Moon not visible.  Venus viewable early in the session, and Saturn late in the session.  Assorted Clusters, Nebulae, Double Stars and Galaxies (as conditions permit).
13 August The moon and planets (Venus, Saturn, Jupiter) will be featured, along with notable double stars. How many other objects will be viewed will depend on conditions.
20 August The bright moon and hazy summer skies will limit some of the faint objects that can be viewed, but we’ll look at several double stars and bright star clusters, plus Venus at the start, and Saturn/Jupiter at the end of the session.
27 August Moon not visible. Venus is prominent early in the session, and Saturn & Jupiter later in the session.  Assorted Clusters, Nebulae, Double Stars and Galaxies (as conditions permit).

Sessions will continue in September.

September sessions start Friday evenings as darkness falls – approximately half an hour after sunset (around 8:15 early in the month, and around 8 mid-month). Determine sunset time for a particular date. Sessions are held if weather permits.

September Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program
3 September Moon not visible. Planets will be featured (Venus, Saturn, Jupiter) along with assorted Clusters, Nebulae, Double Stars and Galaxies (as conditions permit).
10 September The moon and planets (Venus, Saturn, Jupiter) will be featured, along with notable double stars. How many other objects will be viewed will depend on conditions.
17 September The bright moon and may limit some of the faint objects that can be viewed, but we’ll look at several double stars and bright star clusters, plus Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter.
24 September Jo Cline Memorial Lecture (virtual)
First Image of a Black Hole
No Observing Session Tonight

Sessions will continue in October.

Special Viewing Sessions – Eclipses, Transits, Etc.

Occasionally, Cline Observatory holds viewing sessions for special events such as eclipses, transits, or other remarkable astronomical phenomena. These sessions are presented in the same manner as our Friday public viewings, though if the situation requires, we may shift our portable telescopes to other locations on campus.

As with our Friday public viewings, all Cline Observatory special viewing sessions are free and open to anyone with an interest in astronomy.

Recent special sessions we have scheduled include:

  • Total Lunar Eclipse Jan. 20, 2019
  • Expedition to Newberry, SC for Total Solar Eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017
  • Partial Solar Eclipse Oct. 23, 2014
  • Venus Transit June 5, 2012
  • Lunar Eclipse Dec. 10, 2010 (cloudy)
  • Total Lunar Eclipse Feb. 21, 2008
  • Total Lunar Eclipse  March 3, 2007
  • Mercury Transit  Nov. 8, 2006 (cloudy)
  • Total Lunar Eclipse  Oct. 27, 2004
  • Venus Transit  June 6, 2004 (cloudy)

Transits of Venus & Mercury

Three hundred visitors came to GTCC to observe the 2012 Venus Transit – a phenomenon that will not be seen on Earth again until 2117. For more information about this event and other transits, see our Transits page.

Lunar and Solar Eclipses

Cline Observatory is open for viewing lunar and solar eclipses visible in our area. Details about upcoming eclipses will be posted on our Eclipses page.

Meteor Showers

Cline Observatory DOES NOT hold special sessions for meteor showers because they are best observed without telescopes, and are usually best seen from dark locations between midnight and dawn.

The American Meteor Society provides an annual meteor shower calendar,  guides to visual observation of meteors, and weekly updates on meteor activity.  The International Meteor Organization provides annual shower calendars, visual meteor observing resources, and regular outlooks on meteor activity.