Observing Sites

One of our many observing sites

NOVAC maintains formal agreements which grant the club access to certain public and privately owned observing sites in Northern Virginia. Members can use these sites (for astronomical purposes) with the full cooperation of the landowners and authorities.

The nature of the agreements do not allow us to disclose the exact location of all the Novac observing sites to the public. They are located in Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax counties of Virginia.

C.M.Crockett Park in Fauquier County, Virginia, and Great Meadow, The Plains, VA are used for public viewing events. NOVAC members can access a complete listing of the official observing sites in the members section.Novac is an observers club!

In addition to the official observing sites, there are several other places near Washington DC where NOVAC members observe, note these are not necessarily NOVAC sites and may in some cases require special permission to use.

Some members make use of Little Bennett Regional Park and Tuckahoe State Park in Maryland. Others enjoy the dark skies at Big Meadows in the Shenandoah National Park. Watch the NOVAC member’s e-mail list for announcements about events at these sites. 

For NOVAC members in southern Maryland, Aquasco Farm is part of the Patuxent River Park system in southern Prince Georges County and can be accessed by NOVAC members on specific dates. The NOVAC “Southern Maryland Fringers” maintain information about observing from southern Maryland.

NOVAC maintains a relationship with Experience Learning at Spruce Knob Mountain Center (previously The Mountain Institute). The Spruce Knob Mountain Center (SKMC) provides an outstanding observing location as well as civilized amenities like hot showers, meal service, and Internet access.

Because we use these sites with the permission of the landowner or the state/county authorities, there are some rules and restrictions governing their use. Please read through and understand the rules before visiting any of the sites. Refer to the official membership guide in the members section for further details.

 

NOVAC Public Events Calendar

Aug
20
Sat
2022
C.M. Crockett Public Night @ C.M. Crockett Park
Aug 20 @ 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
C.M. Crockett Public Night @ C.M. Crockett Park | Midland | Virginia | United States

RSVP here.

Members of the public are invited to view the wonders of the universe through the telescopes of NOVAC volunteers. You do not need to be a member of the club or own any astronomical equipment to attend.

Before sunset, feel free to inspect the different telescopes and other visual equipment on the field. Have a cosmic question? One of our astronomers will be happy to help you. After sunset be prepared to enjoy the wonders of the night sky!

As a reminder please ask permission from the telescope owner before using. Please monitor your children if they’re around expensive astronomical equipment. Remember, telescope mirrors are sensitive to cigarette smoke and bug spray. Pets should not be brought onto the observing field as well (unless they are service animals).

Don’t forget to dress warmly. Please check the weather forecast. For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows. If you’re arriving after dark, please dim your vehicle’s headlights as you approach the gravel parking lot.

Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.

Please read the C.M. Crockett Page for park details.

 

Aug
27
Sat
2022
Sky Meadows State Park- Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 27 @ 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Sky Meadows State Park- Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park

RSVP here.

NOVAC supports this event by providing telescope views to visitors.

  • Sky Meadows State Park (11012 Edmonds Ln.), behind the Mount Bleak House within the white fence.
  • For individuals who are fully vaccinated face coverings and social distancing are not required but recommended. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated will be asked to continue face covering and social distancing procedures.
  • The event’s programs will take place rain or shine.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Rappahannock County Park Dark Sky Event @ Rappahannock County Park
Aug 27 @ 7:45 pm – 11:00 pm

RSVP here.

Members of the public are invited to view the wonders of the universe through the telescopes of Rappahannock County Park volunteers and NOVAC members. Members of the public may bring their own telescopes and binoculars as well.

This program begins with a 15-minute presentation followed by night sky observing.

As a reminder please ask permission from the telescope owner before using. Please monitor your children if they’re around expensive astronomical equipment. Remember, telescope mirrors are sensitive to cigarette smoke and bug spray. Pets should not be brought onto the observing field as well (unless they are service animals).

Don’t forget to dress warmly. Please check the weather forecast. For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows. If you’re arriving after dark, please dim your vehicle’s headlights as you approach the gravel parking lot.

Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Sep
3
Sat
2022
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party @ Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Sep 3 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party @ Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Midland | Virginia | United States

RSVP here.

Members of the public are invited to view the wonders of the universe through the telescopes of NOVAC volunteers at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. You do not need to be a member of the club or own any astronomical equipment to attend.

The event will take place on the bus parking lot of the museum. Please park your vehicle in the main visitors lot and follow signs to the observing site from the main entrance. As a reminder, parking after 4pm is free.

Shortly before sunset, feel free to inspect the different telescopes and other visual equipment on the field. Have a cosmic question? One of NOVAC’s astronomers or museum staff will be happy to help you. After sunset be prepared to enjoy the wonders of the night sky!

Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather. Please check the forecast. For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows.

Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.

 

Sep
10
Sat
2022
George Mason University Space Day @ George Mason University, HUB Ballroom
Sep 10 @ 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
George Mason University Space Day @ George Mason University, HUB Ballroom

Event Information here.

Sep
17
Sat
2022
Rappahannock County Park Open Observing Session @ Rappahannock County Park
Sep 17 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

RSVP here.

Members of the public are invited to view the wonders of the universe through the telescopes of Rappahannock County Park volunteers and NOVAC members. This is an open observing session and members of the public may bring their own telescopes and binoculars as well.

Note this program is only an observing session (no presentation).

As a reminder please ask permission from the telescope owner before using. Please monitor your children if they’re around expensive astronomical equipment. Remember, telescope mirrors are sensitive to cigarette smoke and bug spray. Pets should not be brought onto the observing field as well (unless they are service animals).

Don’t forget to dress warmly. Please check the weather forecast. For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows. If you’re arriving after dark, please dim your vehicle’s headlights as you approach the gravel parking lot.

Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Sep
24
Sat
2022
Star Gaze @ C.M. Crockett Park
Sep 24 @ 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Star Gaze @ C.M. Crockett Park | Midland | Virginia | United States

RSVP here.

Join NOVAC members who will be on hand to share views of the night sky.

Activities during Astronomy Day will include a telescope meet and greet, solar observing, a guided sky tour, night sky observing, and other demonstrations.

Feel free to walk around and enjoy the views of objects through a variety of telescopes on the field. Please ask the owner before using a telescope. If you have young children, please watch them around expensive astronomical equipment. Remember, telescope mirrors are sensitive to cigarette smoke and bug spray. Pets should also not be brought onto the observing field.

No astronomy experience or equipment is necessary to attend. If you have your own equipment, feel free to bring them along, even if it’s just a pair of binoculars.

For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows. Please dim your vehicles headlights when arriving and departing.

Crockett Park charges $7 per vehicle if you’re not a Fauquier County resident. However the event itself is completely free. NOVAC members are admitted free upon presentation of a membership card (available from the members-only section of the website). If you’re not a member but would like to become one, you can join the club online and print your membership card in only a few minutes.

Note: This event is weather dependent and may be cancelled due to overcast or precipitation.

For more information, see our Star Gaze page.

Rappahannock County Park Dark Sky Event @ Rappahannock County Park
Sep 24 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

RSVP here.

Members of the public are invited to view the wonders of the universe through the telescopes of Rappahannock County Park volunteers and NOVAC members. Members of the public may bring their own telescopes and binoculars as well.

This program begins with a 15-minute presentation followed by night sky observing.

As a reminder please ask permission from the telescope owner before using. Please monitor your children if they’re around expensive astronomical equipment. Remember, telescope mirrors are sensitive to cigarette smoke and bug spray. Pets should not be brought onto the observing field as well (unless they are service animals).

Don’t forget to dress warmly. Please check the weather forecast. For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows. If you’re arriving after dark, please dim your vehicle’s headlights as you approach the gravel parking lot.

Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Sky Meadows State Park- Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sep 24 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sky Meadows State Park- Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park

RSVP here.

NOVAC supports this event by providing telescope views to visitors.

  • Sky Meadows State Park (11012 Edmonds Ln.), behind the Mount Bleak House within the white fence.
  • For individuals who are fully vaccinated face coverings and social distancing are not required but recommended. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated will be asked to continue face covering and social distancing procedures.
  • The event’s programs will take place rain or shine.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Oct
1
Sat
2022
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center International Observe the Moon Night Star Party @ Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Oct 1 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center International Observe the Moon Night Star Party @ Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Midland | Virginia | United States

RSVP here.

In honor of International Observe the Moon Night, NOVAC and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA are joining forces to share telescope views of the First Quarter Moon and other wonders of the universe. You do not need to be a member of the club or own any astronomical equipment to attend.

The event will take place on the bus parking lot of the museum. Please park your vehicle in the main visitors lot and follow signs to the observing site from the main entrance. As a reminder, parking after 4pm is free.

Shortly before sunset, feel free to inspect the different telescopes and other visual equipment on the field. Have a cosmic question? One of NOVAC’s astronomers or museum staff will be happy to help you. After sunset be prepared to enjoy the wonders of the night sky!

Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather. Please check the forecast. For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (the darker the better). Bring along water to keep hydrated and plan on staying the entire evening or as long as the weather allows.

Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.