PUBLIC OBSERVING NIGHT FAQ

 

What are Public Observing Nights?

Public Observing Nights at the James C. Veen Observatory are specific times during the year when we open the facilities to the public at large. We provide tours of the facilities and observations through the telescopes.

When are Public Observing Nights?

Public Observing Nights are held on select Saturdays of the month, providing the sky is clear, beginning at the end of April and running through October. The times for Public Observing Nights vary. Generally they start just after sunset. During the summer they begin at 9.30pm, due to the fact that the sun does not set until late. Autumn start times are earlier.

Is there an admission fee for Public Observing Nights?

The GRAAA charges a small admissions fee, which is as follows: 

  • Adults: $3.00

  • Children (5 - 17): $2.00

  • Children (Under 5): Free

  • GRAAA and GRPM Members: Free

 

What will I see?

In addition to a tour of the facilities, there is an audio-visual presentation about the Observatory and the GRAAA. Depending on the month and time of the year and what is above the horizon, you will observe a variety of objects through our telescopes, including the moon, the planets of the solar system, galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and bright satellites.

How do I get to the James C. Veen Observatory?

A map of the Veen Observatory can be found on the Public Observing Nights page. There are signs posted on the main road to the Observatory pointing toward the parking area. There is a parking lot at the bottom of the hill where you will be directed to park. The walk up the road to the Observatory is approximately 1/4 mile. Although the Observatory road is lighted for group visits, it is suggested you bring a flashlight (but only point it at the ground). There is limited handicapped parking at the top of the hill, and golf cart assistance is available.

Do I need to bring anything?

A flashlight is suggested (but only point it at the ground), as it is kept as dark as possible on the Observatory grounds. Dark skies and surroundings are the only way to observe and appreciate the wonders of the universe. If you have binoculars, bring them. Some type of insect repellent is also suggested, as the Observatory is located in a wooded area. Warm clothing is suggested depending on the season.

Other Information

Even though the GRAAA owns and operates the Veen Observatory, it is surrounded by private property. We please ask parents to watch their children. It is dark at the Observatory, and any running or horseplay could result in unforeseen injuries. There is a restroom available on the premises, and water for those who need it. Star charts, books, and t-shirts are available for purchase.

Please email us if you have additional questions.

© 2020 Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association, Inc.

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