Public Viewing and Community Outreach

solarkidSharing our knowledge of space has always been an important part of NOVAC. Many of our members are avid astronomers and are very enthusiastic about the hobby. Each year we hold several public observing sessions and the annual Star Gaze to help you learn more. Please make plans to attend.

You do not need to be a member of the club or own any astronomical equipment to attend. All you need is an interest in the wonders of the cosmos. We welcome all ages, though children under 18 who attend an event must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Preparation begins before leaving home. Dress warmly! Summer nights can still become cold. Please check the Thanks for Coming to our Schoolweather forecast.

For lighting, cover a flashlight in red cellophane (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.

Feel free to walk around and enjoy the sights through the equipment on display but please ask the owner before using. It’s best to control children around expensive astronomical equipment. Remember, telescope mirrors are sensitive to cigarette smoke and bug spray. Pets should not be brought onto the observing field.

Please check back with our website prior to leaving for the event. If it’s cancelled, there will be a notice prominently displayed on the homepage News or the calendar events.

Club members will begin to arrive just prior to sunset. We advise you to arrive before darkness, too but please check with each event for specific details for arrival.

For more information on NOVAC outreach check out the specific page or if you are looking to have an event please fill out this outreach request form or contact the NOVAC Outreach Coordinator at: outreach@novac.com

Please Note: NOVAC outreach events should generally be held on one of our scheduled public viewing events. Weather conditions may cause last minute cancellations so check out the event calendar for the event status before you head out.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Other Public Events

The following opportunities are sponsored by other organizations and schools in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

The Analemma Society
Sponsors public observing every Friday at Observatory Park, near the village of Great Falls, Virginia.

The Astronomy Dept. of the University of Maryland
Holds a public lecture followed by informal observing at the observatory in College Park, Maryland the 5th and 20th of each month.

The Montgomery College Planetarium
Closed for remodeling until approximately Fall 2021.

NOVAC Monthly Meetings
Don’t forget that our meetings, generally held at George Mason University on the second Sunday evening of each month (except when that Sunday is Mother’s Day), are open to the public.