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.

May 9, 2016 -- Special Event

Mercury's Transit of the Sun

On Monday May 9, Mercury will be transiting the Sun and it will be visible from Hanover. Public Observing is going to hold an observing event so that the community members can see Mercury transit the Sun. The plan is to set up the solar telescope and the projecting telescopes on the Green between 10am and 1pm that Monday. The peak of the transit will be at approximately 11am.  All are welcome.

Current Schedule

  • This term Public Observing will run from April 1, 2016 and ending on May 27, 2016 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

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

This Week

As of 4/27/16, there will likely be observing on 4/29/16. Please call 603-646-9100 after 5:00 pm on Friday for a final update. Possible objects to view this week include:

Planets:

  • Jupiter

Stars:

  • Castor
  • Epsilon Bootis 
  • Mizar

Clusters:

  • M3 (Globular Cluster)
  • M67 (Open Cluster)
  • Beehive Cluster (M40 - Open Cluster)

Nebulae:

  • Owl Nebula (M97)

Galaxies:

  • Black Eye Galaxy (M64) 
  • Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)

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.