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.
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 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.