Public Viewing

PUBLIC VIEWING SESSIONS

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

In addition to viewing through the 24-inch telescope under the dome, we will have a variety of telescopes set up on our outside observing pad.

The viewings begin at 7 p.m. November-February. March-October, they start 30 to 45 minutes after sunset (determine sunset time for a particular date and see month-specific information below). 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 about 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.

Public night viewings are free, and the observatory is open to anyone who wishes to attend. No reservations are necessary. There are no limits on the number of attendees, but we do ask that you let us know well ahead of time if you plan to bring a large group.

Public Viewing Schedule

February sessions start at 7 p.m. on Friday evenings and last about two hours. Sessions are held if weather permits. We will have a variety of telescopes set up on our outside observing pad, and the observatory dome will also be open.

February Viewing Schedule
Date Observing Program
Feb. 2, 2024

Feature: Open Cluster M103 – “Two Spoons” Other targets include: Jupiter, Orion Nebula, assorted clusters, and double stars
Moon: Not visible during the session

Feb. 9, 2024

Feature: Open Cluster M35
Other targets include: Jupiter, Orion Nebula, assorted clusters, and double stars
Moon: Not visible during the session

Feb. 16, 2024

Feature: The Moon
Other targets include: Jupiter, Orion Nebula, assorted clusters, and double stars
Moon: First-quarter moon visible throughout the session

Feb. 23, 2024 Feature: Double Star h3945 – the Winter Albireo
Other targets include: Other doubles, the moon, Jupiter, Orion Nebula
Moon: Full moon visible throughout the session

Sessions will continue in March.

March sessions start as darkness falls on Friday evenings. Because the time change to Daylight Time occurs in March, start times will change during the month (see below for date-specific start
times). The sessions last about two hours and are held if weather permits. We will have a variety of telescopes set up on our outside observing pad, and the observatory dome will also be open.

Date

Observing Program
7 p.m. March 1, 2024

Feature: The Orion Nebula (M42)
Other targets include: Jupiter, winter open clusters sky objects
Moon: Not visible during the session

9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 2, 2024 TriStar Astronomy Festival: Several speakers throughout the day. Koury Auditorium, 621 E. Main St., Jamestown, NC
7 p.m. March 8, 2024 Feature: The Clown Face Nebula
Other targets include: Jupiter, M42, open clusters, winter double stars
Moon: Not visible during the session
8 p.m. March 15, 2024 Feature: The Moon
Other targets include: Jupiter, M42, open clusters, winter double stars
Moon: Waxing crescent moon visible throughout the session
March 22 (session begins after public lecture Feature: A Cavalcade of Double Stars
Other targets include: Jupiter, M42, open clusters
Moon: Bright waxing gibbous moon will limit views of some faint objects.
8:30 p.m. March 29 Feature: Galaxies M81 & M82
Other targets include: Jupiter, assorted deep-sky objects 
Moon: Not visible during the session

April sessions start as darkness falls on Friday evenings (Around 8:30 p.m. through mid-month, then 9 p.m. by month’s end.) Sessions last about two hours and are held if weather permits. We will have a variety of telescopes set up on our outside observing pad, and the observatory dome will also be open.

Date Observing Program
April 5, 2024 Statewide Star Party Session
Observing targets include: Jupiter, clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and double stars, plus eclipse information and assorted activities
Moon: Not visible during the session
April 8, 2024
Solar Eclipse
Solar Eclipse Viewing: in Parking Lot F, GTCC Jamestown Campus Safe. Solar-filtered telescopes will be set up for viewing the eclipse. The session lasts from 1:30-4:30 p.m., weather permitting.
April 12 Feature: TBA Other targets include: assorted deep-sky objects
Moon: Waxing crescent moon visible throughout the session
April 19 Feature: TBA Other targets include: assorted deep-sky objects Moon: Waxing gibbous moon visible throughout the session
April 26 Feature: Open clusters
Other targets include: assorted deep-sky objects
Moon: not visible during the session

Sessions will continue in May.

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.

Saturday, April 8 – Solar Eclipse Viewing, 1:30-4:30 p.m., safe solar-filtered telescopes will be set up in Parking Lot F on GTCC's Jamestown 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:

  • Partial Solar Eclipse Oct. 14, 2023
  • Total Lunar Eclipse May 15, 2022 (cloudy)
  • 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.