Public Open House FAQ

 

How often do you have public open houses?

Once a month.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets first become available at 6 p.m. on the first day of the month containing the open house. You should send email to lcobservatory@gmail.com exactly at that time.

Are tickets available by phone?

No.

How much do the tickets cost?

Nothing. They are free!

How many total tickets do you make available?

32 tickets are available for each open house.

Why so few?

We want to provide the best possible viewing experience for our guests. Our small numbers allow us to do this.

How many tickets can I get at one time?

One person can request a maximum of 4 tickets.

Does everyone need a ticket regardless of age?

Yes.

Can I wait a day or two and still get tickets?

Probably not. Our 32 tickets are generally claimed in less than one minute. You need to be sure to set your computer's clock accurately! Requests sent at 5:59 are too early, and those sent at 6:02 are usually too late. Here is the website we use to set our own computers: http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp40/its.cfm

How soon after I request the tickets will I know whether I was successful?

You will receive an email message within 24 hours of your request. If you were successful, the message will have your ticket(s) attached.

What happens if I find I can't make it after I already have tickets?

You may give your tickets to someone else if you find you can't make it.

Will you redistribute my tickets for me?

No.

What happens if an open house is rained out?

If the weather on Friday night is unsuitable for viewing, we have an automatic rain date of the next night, Saturday. If the weather on that night is also unsuitable, then the open house for that month is cancelled.

How will I know whether the open house is cancelled or not?

Weather cancellations will be announced on our hotline at 434.544.STAR (7827) by 3 p.m. on the day of the open house.

Are my tickets for one month good for later open houses?

No. The ticket distribution process starts over for the next month.

What sorts of things can I expect to see?

It depends on the time of year and what might be visible. We always arrange our open house so that the moon is visible. In addition, you may see 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!

Will I need to wait in a long line to spend 10 seconds looking through a telescope?

No. Not only are our guest numbers small, we have multiple stations for viewing. Our 4 stations include naked-eye observing and constellation lore, ten pairs of astronomical binoculars, six 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.

How long do programs last?

Roughly 90 minutes.

Is there an age limit for who can come?

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.

What rules do I need to be aware of at the observatory?

  1. Don't touch anything unless you are told it's OK.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, at a time that would substitute for one of our monthly public open houses.

How do I get a question answered if I can't find the answer here?

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 solontoi.m@lynchburg.edu, and he will answer as soon as he is able.