Q: When is the best time to come out?
A: The best nights to come out are when the sky is clear. Partly cloudy nights work, also, because we can be patient if the clouds are moving. A full moon will block out many of the stars, so often people check the moon phase to come out. Each season has a new variety of celestial objects to see. Depending on the time of the month and the season of the year, visitors are able to observe a variety of objects such as Saturn’s rings, cloud belts on Jupiter, meteors and the Milky Way.
Q: When can we start viewing?
A: If the Sun is out, we can view it from 3:00pm till the Sun gets too low. We can begin night viewing a little after dusk.
Q: What if it is cloudy or raining?
A: No telescope can see through clouds, unfortunately. We will give tours of the telescopes and an astronomer will give talks. If sky conditions change, then we will start viewing when we can. If no one is here and it is raining, we may close early. We notify the State Park rangers at the gate if we are going to close. In cases of extreme weather (lightning, flood conditions, etc.) we automatically close for safety purposes.
Q: Do we have to pay the State Park entrance fees if we are only coming to the Observatory?
A: Yes, the normal park entrance fees apply to everyone who enters the State Park.
Q: What time do we buy tickets?
A: You can purchase tickets anytime after the doors open at 3:00pm. However, we recommend that you wait till around 5:00 p.m. to make a decision on the weather conditions. There are no refunds.
Q: Will the tickets sell out?
A: No, tickets do not sell out. However, if you come on a busy night close to closing we cannot guarantee you’ll see all the telescopes.
Q: What time do you close?
A: Daylight Saving Summer hours: 3:00p.m. – 11:00 p.m. (You must be in the park before 9:30 p.m.) Standard time Winter hours: 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (You must be in the park before 9:00 p.m.) You must leave the park directly when we close.
Q: Are you only open on Saturday?
A:We are open EVERY Saturday night except for major holidays. The George Observatory is run by volunteers. Amateur astronomers have other jobs and obligations and they do an amazing job coming out every Saturday night. We do have special events where we are open additional nights. Watch our website for any such events.
Q: How long can we look? Is it timed?
A: You can look through the telescope as long as you want, but usually once you have seen an object and asked questions you will want to move to another telescope to see something different. We try to keep the lines moving. Astronomers are available to point out constellations if there are lines that form. There are no official times. We have numerous telescopes, and you can visit them at your own pace.
Q: What do we need to bring?
A: If you come enjoy the park earlier in the day, you may want to bring a picnic or bikes. There are hiking trails and playgrounds for the children. Here at the Observatory, you just need to come to look and ask lots of questions. Closed-toe shoes are recommended in the park as well as comfortable clothing for the weather. Bug spray can also be helpful.
Q: Do we need flashlights?
A: The Observatory is lit with red lights to preserve our night vision. Red allows your eyes to adjust yet still read your star charts. White flashlights, cell phones, flash photography or children’s blinking shoes ruin everyone’s night vision. It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to dark adapt, so it is helpful to only have red lights.