Astronomy Day 2021

May 15, 2021

Update coming soon!

Expand Your Horizons at Astronomy Day 2020

April 25, 2020, 3 PM to 11 PM at C.M. Crockett Park

Hosted by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, Astronomy Day is an international event coordinated by astronomy clubs around the world to share the night sky with our communities. We’re putting on a day full of events and activities, capped off by a night under the stars. Join us and Expand Your Horizons!

Jump to: The EventScheduleKnow Before You Go

The Event

Experienced NOVAC members will be on hand to provide you with a guided tour of the night sky and share views of Venus, double stars, the Milky Way, and many deep sky objects in the night sky! We’ll have special presentations covering a range of topics in amateur and professional astronomy. Younger children will appreciate our field activities and events that are more interactive and hands-on (children under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian). The presentation portion of Astronomy Day will be held inside our large banquet tent, so the event will be held rain or shine! Mark your calendars, bring your family, and join NOVAC on April 25 for a special day of learning and observing all the wonders of our universe!

Activities will include safe views of the sun in the afternoon, fun activities for kids (children under 18 need to be with a parent or legal guardian), special astronomy and space exploration presentations in our big tent (rain or shine!), a human orrery on the field, a special guided tour of the night sky, and spectacular views of the universe through club members’ telescopes.

No astronomy experience or equipment is needed to enjoy Astronomy Day. Free star maps and brochures about amateur astronomy will be available to help you get started. Experienced amateur astronomers will show you how to use them to learn and enjoy the night sky – just ask!

If you own a pair of binoculars, bring them. Binoculars are great for looking at the night sky. The free star maps point out features in the night sky that are best viewed with binoculars.

There will be no shortage of optics of all sizes and shapes offering views of everything overhead. Walk around and enjoy the sights through the equipment on display. Our members will be glad to let you have a look, but please ask before using.

Crockett Park charges $7 per vehicle if you’re not a Fauquier County resident, but 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.

Get the Astronomy Day flyer – share it with family and friends!

Astronomy Presentations

These talks are intended for all audiences – newcomers and veterans alike. Join us in the presentation tent, rain or shine. You can find the speakers’ biographical information here.

Time Title Speaker
4:00 pm TBD Dr. Mariah Baker
5:00 pm Parker Solar Probe: A Mission to Touch the Sun Dr. Phillip Hess
6:00 pm Ultima Thule: A Window on the Early Solar System Dr. Michael Summers

Activities on the field

Time Event
3pm to dusk The NOVAC Club Tent
3pm to dusk Safe Solar Viewing
4:30 pm Your Place in Space – A Human Orrery
5:30 pm Astronomy Bingo for Kids
7:56 pm Sunset!
Dark until ? Night Sky Tour
Dark until 11 pm Nighttime Observing

What you should know before you visit

  • Bring layers of clothing to add as the evening cools. Temperatures can be chilly and little body heat is generated while standing still to peer through a telescope eyepiece. Check the forecast for Midland, VA before you start out to get an idea of what the weather will be like.
  • Bring water and other beverages to keep hydrated. No food concessions will be available at the park so you may want to bring snacks and a picnic dinner. Crockett park is truly rural. There are no restaurants nearby; the closest are in Nokesville, Calverton or Bristow.
  • Bring a flashlight, but cover it in layers of red cellophane, the darker the better. Astronomers use red lights because of a phenomenon called dark adaptation. Our eyes slowly increase in sensitivity to light in dark environments but very quickly lose it when exposed to white light. Red lights, specifically those with a wavelength longer than 620 nanometers, dark ruby red, don’t cause this, so we use them to illuminate our path or charts.
  • Children are welcome, of course, but please help us to encourage them to be careful around the astronomical equipment. Scouts are encouraged and this is a great way for Girl Scouts to work on their Space Explorer Try It or work on the Sky Search Program. Scouts can work on their Astronomy Merit Badges.
  • No smoking around the telescopes. Telescope mirrors (and some of the owners) are sensitive to tobacco smoke. Move far away from the telescopes if you use any kind of spray. A tiny droplet of insect repellent spray could significantly damage the coating on a telescope lens or mirror.
  • Pets, except service dogs, are not permitted on the observing field.