- How often do you have sky parties?
- How do I get tickets?
- Are tickets available by phone?
- How much do the tickets cost?
- How many total tickets do you make available?
- How many tickets can I get at one time?
- Does everyone need a ticket regardless of age?
- 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?
We usually host one sky party per month. In 2018, sky parties are on the third Friday of the month, except for June, July, and August. Sky Party schedule
We are moving to a semi-automated ticket request system. Ticket requests can be made on the first day of the month of the scheduled sky party. Request tickets here. If you have trouble accessing your ticket, please email .
Nothing. They are free! However, please consider bringing a small cash or check donation with you — even a few dollars helps! Your donations will go directly to helping maintain the equipment and supporting the sky party programs.
56 tickets are available for each sky party. Tickets are for your reservation for a shuttle ride to the observatory.
One person can request a maximum of 6 tickets.
Tickets are to reserve shuttle seats. Our form assumes that children under the age of 5 can ride in laps, and we do not require tickets for them. However, if your child under the age of five is too large for your lap, please include him or her in your ticket request.
You should receive an email message within one or two business days of your request. If you were successful, the message will have your ticket(s) attached. If you experience a delayed response or trouble accessing your tickets, please contact at least one day before the scheduled event.
Although we do understand extenuating circumstances, guests have been taking advantage of our free policy. If you are allotted tickets and cannot attend the open house, please re-distribute your tickets to others. Those who have confirmed reservations and who do not fill at least 50% of their shuttle seats will be prohibited from making reservations for the next four months.
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 cancel programs due to weather unless roads are dangerous to navigate. Otherwise, we will have a sky party regardless of weather!
In the event of a cancellation, you will be emailed directly at the email address supplied during registration. You may also check the LC Claytor Nature Study Center Facebook page for updates
No. The ticket distribution process starts over for the next month. If you are unable to attend an event for which you have been allotted tickets, please redistribute your tickets to others. Those who have confirmed reservations and who do not fill their shuttle seats will be prohibited from making reservations for the next four months.
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. We have multiple stations for viewing and learning about the night sky. Our stations often include naked-eye observing and constellation lore, astronomical binoculars, 8-inch telescopes (each pointing to a different object), and when operable, the 20-inch Gilbert telescope. You will have time to savor the view and ask questions of your hosts. Please note: the 20″ Gilbert telescope is still down for mechanical issues. We will keep these pages updated with its progress.
How long would you like to stay? Some of our learning and viewing activities are free-flow, while others begin at scheduled times. Your experience may last between 45 and 180 minutes, depending on how and where you choose to spend your time. Check the monthly program details on the Sky Party Schedule page for more information.
Not at all! Parents will be the best judges of how long their children can be out at night without getting fussy. Parking is at the northside of the Claytor Nature Study Center, and the activities on the northside are all handicap accessible. When available, 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. Occasionally, our programs will also include a planet walk to the observatory, the length of which is ~500 ft. We usually rotate monthly through different Planet Walks on evenings when the stars are obscured. Special arrangements can be made when you arrive, if you are unable to make this walk.
- 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 event.
- 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 University of Lynchburg community to groups of children such as Scouts, public and private school classes, and home schoolers. We also limit the annual number of private viewings. Contact us at to inquire if we can accommodate your group.
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 or to Dr. Moorman at .