- What’s new for 2016?
- How often do you have public open houses?
- How do I get tickets?
- Are tickets available by phone?
- How much do the tickets cost?
- How many total tickets do you make available?
- Why so few tickets?
- How many tickets can I get at one time?
- Does everyone need a ticket regardless of age?
- Can I wait a day or two and still get tickets?
- How soon after I request the tickets will I know whether I was successful?
- What happens if I find I can’t make it after I already have tickets?
- Will you redistribute my tickets for me?
- What happens if an open house is rained out?
- How will I know whether the open house is cancelled or not?
- Are my tickets for one month good for later open houses?
- What sorts of things can I expect to see?
- Will I need to wait in a long line to spend 10 seconds looking through a telescope?
- How long do programs last?
- Is there an age limit for who can come?
- What rules do I need to be aware of at the observatory?
- How can I arrange for my Scout troop (classroom, private school, home schoolers, etc.) to have a private viewing at the observatory?
- How do I get a question answered if I can’t find the answer here?
New in 2016, we will increase the number of tickets we distribute at each open house, implement a courtesy waiting list (ticket distribution) for the month, include a topical audio-visual presentation into the evening’s program, and implement a new parking design. Also, as we cannot currently fill all of the demand for our tickets, ticket holders with unused tickets will be penalized in future requests by being placed at the end of the ticket distribution list, regardless of when a request for tickets is received.
Once a month. In 2016, all open houses are scheduled for the Friday of the first full week of the month.
We are moving to a semi-automated ticket request system. Ticket requests can be made beginning at 9 a.m. on the first day of the month of the scheduled open house. Request tickets here.
Nothing. They are free!
56 tickets are available for each open house.
We want to provide the best possible viewing experience for our guests. Our small numbers allow us to do this.
One person can request a maximum of 4 tickets.
Probably not. Our 56 tickets are generally claimed in less than one minute. You need to be sure to set your computer’s clock accurately! Requests sent at 8:59 are too early, and those sent at 9:02 may be too late. Here is the website we use to set our own computers: http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp40/its.cfm. Any tickets still available three days before a scheduled open house will be announced on the LC Claytor Nature Study Center’s Facebook page.
You will receive an email message within 24 hours of your request. If you were successful, the message will have your ticket(s) attached. We hope soon to go to an automated program that will provide instantaneous feedback.
We have a limited number of opportunities for people to enjoy our observatory. If you are allotted tickets and cannot attend the open house, you are responsible for redistributing your tickets to anyone else, or for notifying us 48 hours in advance of the open house. If you do not give us a courtesy cancellation and your tickets go unused, you will automatically be placed at the end of the ticket distribution list for the remainder of the year, regardless of when a request for tickets for future open houses is received. Email to cancel your reservation and indicate whether you would like for us to redistribute your tickets.
With 48 hours or more of advanced notice, we will redistribute your tickets to others on the waiting list. Email to cancel.
We no longer have a rain date for our open houses. If the weather on the scheduled night is unsuitable, then the open house for that month is cancelled.
Weather cancellations will be announced on our hotline at 434.544.STAR (7827) by 3 p.m. on the day of the open house. You may also check the LC Claytor Nature Study Center Facebook page for the program outlook the day before the open house.
No. The ticket distribution process starts over for the next month. We will, however, begin to implement a waiting list, so that if tickets become available, you will be notified and have a chance to accept them. You must be able to accept the tickets within 24 hours of notification, or they will be offered to the next person on the waiting list.
It depends on the time of year and what might be visible. You may see the craters in the moon, one or more planets, a globular cluster, a double star, a galaxy, a planetary nebula … We have a whole universe of objects from which to choose!
No. Not only are our guest numbers small, we have multiple stations for viewing. Our 4 stations include naked-eye observing and constellation lore, astronomical binoculars, 8-inch telescopes (each pointing to a different object), and the 20-inch Gilbert telescope. You will have time to savor the view and ask questions of your hosts.
Roughly 90-120 minutes. New in 2016, all of our programs will include an audio-visual presentation in addition to viewing activities. These presentations will usually be held outdoors – please come prepared for the weather.
Not at either end! Parents will be the best judges of how long their children can be out at night without getting fussy, and senior citizens can judge their own capabilities. Viewing through the Gilbert telescope does require climbing some stairs in the dark, but we have volunteers who will help you both up and down. Parking is at the end of the observatory lane. The walk to the observatory is ~500 ft. If you require handicap accommodations, please email with the subject line “Handicap Parking” and be prepared to show a handicap tag when you arrive for the observatory program.
- Don’t touch anything unless you are told it’s OK.
- Children should not be left unsupervised. If you or your children are responsible for damaging equipment, you will be asked to donate to its repair/replacement, and you will be asked to leave the open house.
- Don’t bring white-light flashlights, as they ruin everyone’s night vision. We have red lights that let you see just fine but still preserve your eyes’ dark adaptation.
- Have fun!
How can I arrange for my Scout troop (classroom, private school, home schoolers, etc.) to have a private viewing at the observatory?
While we are certainly interested in hosting private groups at the observatory – this definitely fits into our mission of public outreach – we do limit such events outside the Lynchburg College community to groups of children such as Scouts, public and private school classes, and home schoolers, as our more frequent public open houses are open to everyone. We limit these private viewings to no more than two annually. Contact Dr. Solontoi at to inquire if your group can be accommodated.
First, please be sure that the answer isn’t already on this page. We have tried our best to include the questions we get asked most often. If you have read this far, you have probably already found your answer! But if not, send an email to Dr. Solontoi at , and he will answer as soon as he is able.