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 will be starting again on April 3, 2015 and ending on May 29, 2015 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 this afternoon, public observing for tonight is up in the air.   Please call for last-minute updates.

Possible objects to view that week include (tentative):

Planets

  • Jupiter

Comets

  • Lovejoy (If possible, but has likely set)

Galaxies

  • Bode's Galaxy (M81)
  • Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)
  • Black Eye Galaxy (M64)
  • Sombrero Galaxy (M104)

Star Clusters

  • The Pleiades (M45) (If possible, sets early)
  • Beehive Cluster (M44)
  • Hercules Globular Cluster (M13)

Stars

  • Mizar and Alcor
  • β Monocerotis

Nebulae

  • Orion Nebula (M42) (If possible, sets early)
  • Ghost of Jupiter (NGC 3242)
  • Crab Nebula (M1)
  • Eight-Burst Nebula (NGC 3132)

 

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.