Please note an update to our Covid policy. The Robert Ferguson Observatory requires proof of Covid vaccination or a negative Covid test (completed within 72 hours) for all public and private events. The good news is that implementing this policy will enable us to open more of our scopes to the public. Masks will still be required indoors or in areas where social distancing is not possible. This policy does not apply to children that are too young to be vaccinated. Proof can be in the form of a vaccination card or a picture of one. Please be advised that there is no cell service up at Sugarloaf so please make sure you don’t need to get online to an app or website in order to show proof. Thank you in advance for abiding to these policies and keeping our volunteers and visitors safe!
This Spring Night Sky Class is a series of lectures on our Place in the Universe and the Constellations of the Seasons.
The three seasonal series (six classes each) are designed for everyone from total beginners to experienced amateur observers. Whether you want to learn the constellations or have a telescope and want to expand your knowledge of viewing objects, these classes have something for you. The focus is on learning the night sky in a “geographic” sense…locating yourself in our solar system, our Milky Way and our local galaxy cluster neighborhoods! A few constellations are introduced in each class—their myths, history and interesting stars. We also cover deep sky objects such as the beautiful nebulae and clusters that never cease to awe and amaze.
After each class (sky conditions permitting), we go outside to locate the constellations just presented. We then move to the Observatory’s telescopes to view objects within the featured constellations, until or beyond 10:30 PM (11:30 PM daylight time).
Basic topics are repeated in each series so that concepts become familiar. Persons who take all three Night Sky series (18 classes in all) will learn the entire sky viewable from our northern latitude. (The winter sky is split between the Fall and Spring Series).
Detailed informational handouts are provided at each class. These may serve as excellent reference materials for all types of observing. The handouts are compiled from a large number of sources, and the observatory strives to make certain that they are useful, accurate, and up-to-date.
Classes are held at The Robert Ferguson Observatory. Park in the gravel area near the horse corrals just outside the gate to the Group Camp/Observatory site. You do not need to pay the park day use fee to attend the class, however you must obtain a parking pass from us and take it back to your car before the class begins. Presentations begin promptly at the times noted and last approximately 90 minutes. Please arrive about 30 minutes early on your first night to check in and obtain a parking pass.
While the classes are designed for adults, children 8 to 12 years old who already have an avid interest in astronomy can enjoy them. The classes are not recommended for children under 8.
Tickets can be purchased for the entire 6-class series or for the individual sessions. Because the per class fee for the series ticket remains a good deal for up to four of the classes, series purchases remain possible until the third session.
Please note, members receive a 20% discount for either a single session or when purchasing the whole series. If you'd like to become a member, please fill out a member application form and you will be sent a promotional code to use when purchasing tickets.
Feb 1, 7:00 pm, Class #1: Asterisms and Constellations, Stars, Deep Sky Objects, Sky Charts, The "Winter Hexagon." Constellations: Canis Major, Canis Minor, Monoceros, Puppis.
Feb 22, 7:00 pm, Class #2: Sky Motion and the Seasonal Skies, Celestial Poles and Celestial Equator, The Ecliptic and the Zodiac. Constellations: Gemini, Lynx, Cancer.
Mar 1, 7:00 pm, Class #3: Obliquity of the Ecliptic, Equinoxes and Solstices, Precession and Epochs. Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Leo Minor.
Mar 29, 7:30 pm, Class #4: Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters and Super-Clusters, Spiral Structure and Star Formation, The Milky Way and Our Milky Way Neighborhood, The Galactic Halo and Globular Clusters. Constellations: Hydra, Sextans, Crater, Corvus.
Apr 19, 7:30 pm, Class #5: The Solar System, The "Spring Arc." Constellations: Leo, Boötes, Canes Venatici.
Apr 26, 7:30 pm, Class #6: The Moon and Eclipses. Constellations: Virgo, Coma Berenices.
Notice the class start time change after the start of DST.