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Please read the following before completing the Group Reservation Form. Knowledge of the following will help expedite your request for a group visit and provide maximum benefit from the experience.


Group Tours of the Veen Observatory can be scheduled Sunday through Friday evenings, from May 1st through November 1st (because of research and other educational activities, not all dates are available, so groups are urged to have a few dates in mind before proceeding with the reservation process). Appointments should be made at least three weeks prior to the desired date. We are able to accommodate six group reservations per month due to our volunteer capacity. A maximum of 30 people can be accommodated per group visit, but it is ideal when groups are kept under 15. You will select one date for your tour, and in the case of inclement weather will communicate directly with your Lead Host to find a suitable date to reschedule for no additional fee. Tours generally last approximately one and one half to two hours. Unfortunately we cannot offer overnight events. A non-refundable Group Fee is due upon reservation ($50 for groups up to 15 people, $75 for groups 16-30 people), paid online when submitting the Group Reservation Form.

When filling out the Group Reservation Form, please check the Group Tour Calendar to see what nights are available. After filling out the Group Reservation Form, a confirmation email will be sent to you to indicate that your request was received; please note that your visit is not officially confirmed until you receive an email from the Outreach Coordinator or your Lead Host. If there are any problems or conflicts related to your request you will receive an email promptly from GRAAA; the details of your tour will be finalized between you and your Lead Host during the three weeks leading up to your requested visit date. It is also through the Lead Host that last-minute decisions are made about rescheduling due to weather, if needed. If you have additional questions, contact the coordinator for group tours, Tom Good, (616) 617-6964.

Visitors should be aware that the observation domes and grounds surrounding the observatory must be kept dark for effective viewing to occur. The stairways are narrow and not necessarily accessible to those with disabilities. Floor space within the observing tower is limited. While safeguards are in place to minimize hazards and potential for injury, there is an "assumed risk" in visiting a facility of this type, which is not specifically designed for public accommodation. The Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association and Grand Rapids Public Museum cannot be held liable for any injuries incurred during Observatory visits.

Come equipped: Flashlights will be helpful for finding your way around in the dark, but should be kept directed toward the ground so as not to interfere with observing activities. Insect repellent or warm clothing (particularly for feet, head and hands) is strongly encouraged during appropriate seasons. Parts of the observatory are heated but the dome and a second large telescope outside the building are both open to the night air. A limited number of persons can be accommodated in the observation tower at one time so larger groups are usually split up and rotated between telescopes and other points of interest.

Appropriate conduct is expected at all times. There is to be absolutely no running, loud talking, or inappropriate behavior of any kind that could be potentially harmful to guests or observatory property, or is detrimental to the enjoyment of the experience by all guests. Please stress this important point to all members of your group. Group leaders are responsible for the conduct of their group members and should make sure that all chaperones are aware of this policy. Any persons not strictly adhering to proper conduct will be asked to leave the premises.

If it is cloudy on the primary date, you can, at no additional cost, reschedule your visit by coordinating directly with your Lead Host. 

Stay in touch with your Lead Host, whose name, phone number, and email address will be provided to you. Changes in arrival time or length of the visit, and any special requests that can help provide maximum benefit and enjoyment for the group are best handled directly between you and your Lead Host whenever possible.

Location: The online map will help you reach the observatory. Look for a small portable sign along with a green address sign "3308." There are no other signs on Kissing Rock Road indicating the observatory's location. Turn onto the one-lane paved road that leads up to the observatory, where your Lead Host will be to meet you and advise you regarding where to park. IMPORTANT: Path lights will guide walkers along the quarter mile one-lane roadway from the parking area to the observatory. Vehicles needing to drive up the one-lane road to the building should do so with extreme care. Be aware of a moderate grade, a sharp curve, and close proximity to heavy forest. Drive slow and be alert for oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, and other hazards. Take care not to damage the path lights, and under no circumstances should oncoming vehicles attempt to pass in the wooded area.

We look forward to your visit and sharing the wonders of the cosmos with you and your group.

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