Your Universe Classes 2023

  • January 24 - December 12, 2023
  • Robert Ferguson Observatory

    2605 Adobe Canyon Road
    Kenwood, California 95442
Ticket Price $40.00-$50.00 This event is now over

As each month passes, the sun "moves" to a new sign of the zodiac, and our evening sky reveals a new region of the universe for us to explore. This year we are offering monthly  evenings of exploration at RFO, called "Your Universe". Each month will be dedicated to a different zodiacal constellation, its neighbors, planets, prominent deep space objects, and just enough astrophysics to bring it together.


Please note that this event starts on time with a presentation. Please account for extra time driving up the mountain and parking.


After the classroom program, weather permitting, we will step out under beautiful dark skies to locate the constellations and other objects discussed. Then we will move to RFO's three main telescopes (an 8" refractor, a 40" reflector, and a 20" astrophotography system) for deeper examinations. Sales are limited to 35 guests so we can provide a more personal experience. You will have plenty of time at the telescope eyepieces, and as always, the observatory will be staffed by knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers eager to show you the night sights, and answer any questions you may have.


Please join us for this year's trip around the Sun and learn more about "Your Universe".


$50.00 per adult, $45 for students and seniors (62+) and $40 for members. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park parking fees are included.


Classes are held at The Robert Ferguson Observatory. You do not need to pay the park day use fee to attend the class.


You MUST have a ticket to attend this event.  Attendance is limited. Please note that tickets are non-refundable and cannot be used for future events. 



Please note, members receive a 20% discount. 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.


2023 Schedule:

Tuesday, January 24, 7:00 pm

Motion in the Night Sky

Using Star Charts, Planospheres

Stellar Magnitude

Zodiac, Ecliptic, obliquity, precession, Epoch, etc

The Solar System's Zoo (planets, dwarf planets, minor planets, comets, meteors...)

Taurus, Orion, Canis Major & Minor, Winter Hexagons



Tuesday, February 14, 7:00 pm

The Life of Stars & the Galactic Zoo

Star forming nebula, open clusters, planetary nebula, SNR

Brown dwarf, Red Giants

Dead stars

Gemini, Auriga, Lepus, Camelapardalis , Kemble’s Cascade


Tuesday, March 21, 7:30 pm

Reading Between the Lines , Spectroscopy & Photometry

The HR Diagram

Chemical composition

Redshift, blueshift

Spectroscopic binaries

Variable and Binary stars


Cancer, Lynx, Hydra


Tuesday, April 18, 7:30 pm

The Cosmic Distance Ladder

Transit of Venus, measuring the Solar System


Standard candles: Cephid variables, Type 1A super nova,

Redshift, expansion of the Universe

Leo, Leo Minor, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor



Tuesday, May 16, 8:00 pm

Scale of the Universe

Distance to the planets, AU

Nearest stars, lightyear

Nearest Galaxies

Farthest Galaxies, Z

Size of the Universe

Virgo, Coma Berenices, Canes Venatici, Corvus, Crater, Sextans


Tuesday, June 20, 8:00 pm

Dead Stars and Other Exotics

Nova, Super Nova

White dwarf, neutron stars

Pulsars, Magnetars, X-ray & gamma ray sources

Libra, Bootes, Draco, Corona Borealis


Tuesday, July 18, 8:00 pm

Gravity and Black Holes

What is gravity?

How stellar black holes form

Super massive black holes

Scorpius, Ophiucus, Serpens, Hercules

Venus - crescent at 8:00 pm


Tuesday, August 15, 8:30 pm

The Milky Way

Structure, arms, bulge, halo, central black hole

Dust, dark lanes, dark nebula

Where we are, where other objects are

Globular Clusters


Local group, LMC, SMC, merger

Sagittarius, Scutum, Lyra, Aquila, Summer Triangle


Tuesday, September 12, 8:30 pm



Formation. evolution, merger

Astrophysical jets

Capricornus, Cygnus, Vulpecula, Delphinus, Sagitta



Tuesday, October 17, 7:30 pm

Gravity Waves and Non-Visible Telescopes

Radio, Microwave



Gamma ray


Aquarius, Cepheus, Pegasus, Great Square of Pegasus



Tuesday, November 14, 7:00 pm

The Big Bang

Standard Theory

Microwave Background


Pisces, Andromeda, Cassaiopeia



Tuesday, December 12, 7:00 pm

The End of the Universe

The shape of space, Einstein's Eclipse, Gravitational lensing

Dark Matter

Dark Energy

Heat Death

Aries, Cetus, Perseus, Triangulum



RFO is operated by the Valley of the Moon Observatory Association, a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization, and all of the proceeds will go towards maintaining this beloved Sonoma county institution.



Date & Time

Jan 24 - Dec 12, 2023

Venue Details

Robert Ferguson Observatory

2605 Adobe Canyon Road
Kenwood, California 95442 Robert Ferguson Observatory
Robert Ferguson Observatory

The Valley of the Moon Observatory Association (VMOA) is volunteer amateur and professional astronomers plus a small supporting staff organized as a nonprofit association to provide educational programs about science and astronomy for students, the public, and in support of educators.

The VMOA is responsible for the construction, maintenance and utilization of the Robert Ferguson Observatory and functions as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the auspices of the California State Parks System, and in cooperation with our local state parks.

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