UVA Today’s Fariss Samarrai reports:
The University of Virginia’s Fan Mountain Observatory is open to the public just twice a year, once in April and once in October. This spring’s Public Night will be on April 12. Guests will be allowed to look through the telescopes beginning at about 8:30 (once it’s dark enough, and weather permitting). The event runs until everyone has had a chance to look through the 40- and 31-inch telescopes.
Fan Mountain Observatory is about a 20-minute drive from Charlottesville to the base of the mountain (and another 15 minutes to climb the steep and winding road to the Observatory (directions here).
The observatory was established in the mid-1960′s as a dark site away from the light pollution of Charlottesville. Up until the late 1980s, the observatory was used extensively for research. In recent years, extensive hardware upgrades and instrumentation efforts have transformed the observatory into a modern research facility capable of optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy.
Visitors to the observatory should dress warmly, as the night mountain air will be significantly colder than the day temperature in Charlottesville. The observatory will be open rain or shine. If it is cloudy, the staff offers tours of the telescopes and the opportunity to talk to researchers.
Free tickets are required. Starting March 1, send a self-addressed stamped envelope, along with the number of tickets requested (up to six), to: Fan Mountain Public Night, P.O. Box 400325, Charlottesville VA 22904-04325.
A self-addressed stamped envelope must be enclosed or tickets will not be sent. The supply of tickets is usually exhausted by the third week of March. Tickets will be mailed out two to three weeks prior to the event.
For information, visit the Observatory Public Nights Program and Schedule, or call 434-243-1885.
(Photo by Sean Harrison, 2008, via Flickr)
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