Public Observing

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers free viewing through their campus astronomical telescopes to all Dartmouth students and to the public. The public viewing nights are usually offered only during the school terms. Observing of the Moon, planets and stars is available on Friday nights.  See below for the observing schedule and the objects currently being observed.

Overview

Shattuck Observatory is the oldest scientific building on campus. Many astronomy classes use the observatory. For research Dartmouth owns a share of the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, the 11-meter Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), as well as the MDM Observatory, consisting of 1.3 and 2.4 meter telescopes, on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

NOTE: Public observing (which occurs in the rightmost white building in the image above) is only possible under good weather conditions meaning mostly clear skies with little chance of rain or snow. If the weather is questionable, call (603) 646-9100 and select option 2 to find out the current status of an observing session. Selecting option 1 will give dates and times for the current term.

Current Schedule

  • Public Observing for the summer term will start on June 24 and will end on August 19.  Hours: 9:30 pm to 11:00 pm. 

To find out if a session is on for a given Friday, please call 646-9100.

This Week

As of 6/29/16, it looks unlikely that there will be observing on Friday evening.  Weather reports predict thundershowers during the observing time.  Please call 603-646-9100 after 5:00 pm on Friday for a final update.

Possible objects to view at the next public observing include:

Planets:

  • Jupiter (maybe)
  • Mars
  • Saturn

Stars:

  • Mizar & Alcor - Sextuple system
  • Epsilon Bootis - Double system
  • Epsilon Lyrae - Double double system
  • Albireo - Double system (technically a triple)
  • Herschel's Garnet Star
  • UY Scuti - Largest known star

Clusters:

  • M15 - Only known globular cluster with a planetary nebula
  • M11 - Wild Duck Cluster
  • M13 - Hercules Globular Cluster

Nebulae:

  • M27 - Dumbbell Nebula
  • M57 - Ring Nebula

Galaxies:

  • M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy 
  • M31 - Whirlpool Galaxy
  • M82 - Cigar Galaxy
  • M81 - Bode's Galaxy

Directions and Parking

Traveling along East Wheelock Street toward the Dartmouth Green, take the first right after Alumni Gym (on left) onto Observatory Road.

Traveling along West Wheelock Street toward the Dartmouth Green, take the second left after the Hanover Inn onto Observatory Road.

From either direction: Once on Observatory Road, go up the hill and through one intersection. The Observatory is on the right as you reach the top of the hill.

Click here for a map. Public observing uses the North Telescope. 

You may park anywhere in the nearby parking lots during observing hours. Please do not park in the small dirt lot just behind the Observatory.