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 club holds free monthly observing nights open to the public at primarily two locations within an hour’s drive of the metro D.C. area.  On occasion additional sites are used for public observing and outreach.   Check the front page on NOVAC.com for calendar date, time, and location for all our public observing sessions. 

Each month public observing is held at C.M.Crockett Park in Midland, VA, and at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane, VA.   

C.M. Crockett Park in Fauquier County, Virginia offers an excellent place to stargaze for the beginner or the advanced.  Depending on the time of year, expect to see constellations, planets, star clusters, galaxies, nebula, and possibly a few meteors and satellites.  In addition to the monthly public nights, two larger astronomy events are held – Astronomy Day in the spring, and Star Gaze in the fall.  Volunteers (and guests, if they wish) bring a variety of telescopes and binoculars.  Crockett Park is home to the county’s largest lakeside park and offers a wide range of other recreational activities as well. 

At Sky Meadows State Park you can enjoy visiting an International Dark-Sky Park – one of five in the state of Virginia!  Evenings there begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a more in depth astronomy presentation, including emphasis on the importance of dark sky preservation, as well as updates on the latest news in space research.   Finish the evening by relaxing and enjoying the night’s beauty with NOVAC members sharing views of the night skies through their telescopes.  Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets.  Feel free to bring your telescope or binoculars for your own exploration.

Novac is an observers club!

NOVAC also maintains a relationship with the Experience Learning at Spruce Knob Mountain Center (previously The Mountain Institute) in West Virginia.  The club hosts two major star parties each year at Spruce Knob.  Look for announcements on the Night Owl Star Party and the Almost Heaven Star Party.  The Spruce Knob Mountain Center (SKMC) provides an outstanding observing location as well as civilized amenities like hot showers, meal service, and Internet access.   They also host many other groups seeking recreational activities and respite.

 

 

NOVAC Public Events Calendar

Mar
9
Sat
2024
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party

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.  Telescopes will be provided by the Smithsonian and pre-approved members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club.

No other personal telescopes are permitted at the event.

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.

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 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.

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

 

C.M. Crockett Public Night @ C.M. Crockett Park
Mar 9 @ 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.

 

Mar
10
Sun
2024
NOVAC Public Meeting
Mar 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

See featured article on front page for more detail and link to join.

Mar
16
Sat
2024
Sky Meadows State Park- Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 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.
  • Important note: The incoming park gate is locked one hour after event start time. Please plan to arrive before then.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Apr
6
Sat
2024
C.M. Crockett Public Night @ C.M. Crockett Park
Apr 6 @ 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.

 

Apr
12
Fri
2024
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party
Apr 12 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party

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.  Telescopes will be provided by the Smithsonian and pre-approved members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club.

No other personal telescopes are permitted at the event.

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.

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 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.

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

 

Apr
13
Sat
2024
Sky Meadows State Park- Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 13 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 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.
  • Important note: The incoming park gate is locked one hour after event start time. Please plan to arrive before then.

Please visit the official website for more details.

Apr
14
Sun
2024
NOVAC Public Meeting
Apr 14 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

See featured article on front page for more detail and link to join.

May
4
Sat
2024
Astronomy Day
May 4 @ 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Astronomy Day

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 because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.

 

Head over to the Astronomy Day page for more information.

May
10
Fri
2024
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party
May 10 @ 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center Star Party

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.  Telescopes will be provided by the Smithsonian and pre-approved members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club.

No other personal telescopes are permitted at the event.

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.

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 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.

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