Visit the Belk Observatory at the Claytor Nature Study Center! You’ll be able to look through our powerful telescopes and learn more about the universe! While you’re here, take advantage of the on-site campground and explore more than 7.5 miles of trails.
After 19 months of repairs, the Margaret G.L. Gilbert 20-inch telescope is now back in operation!
Dear Friends of the Observatory,
Our night sky parties are currently on hold, while our Director is on maternity leave. We regret disappointing you and apologize for any inconvenience. We hope that we will have the pleasure of seeing you again in the new year!
— Belk staff and docents
We hope you can visit the Belk Observatory during one of our Sky Parties — come help us celebrate the awesome nature of our universe! Sky Party events typically feature a screening of a film related to the cosmos and the secrets of our universe. So, come just for viewing the stars, or come an hour earlier in the evening for an astronomy-related film and space-related mazes and coloring pages for the kids (young and old)!
Events take place the third Friday of every month.
View the Public Sky Party FAQ page for more general information.
Please contact if you experience trouble with the website links or form.
How To Request Tickets
We are moving to a semi-automated ticket request system. Ticket requests can be made beginning at the time indicated in the chart below. Request tickets here.
Upcoming Sky Parties
|2018||Reservations begin||Astronomy film||Film starts||Sky viewing|
|Feb 16||Feb 1||No screening prior, program starts at 7:30 pm||—||7:30 pm|
|Mar 16||Mar 1||Cosmos (2014) E1: Standing Up in the Milky Way||7:35 pm||8:30 pm|
|Apr 20||Apr 1||S1E3 of Cosmos (2014), When Knowledge Conquered Fear||7:35 pm||8:30 pm|
|May 18||May 1||
Full — closed to the public
|8:35 pm||9:30 pm|
|Sept||—||Docent training – no sky party.
Know something about stars, constellations or telescopes and want to share your knowledge? Volunteer to help out with our Night Sky Parties!
Contact for information.
|Oct 19||Oct 1||No screening prior, program starts at 7:30 pm||—||7:30 pm|
|Nov TBD||Nov 1||No screening prior, program starts at 7:30 pm||—||7:30 pm|
|Dec TBD||Dec 1||No screening prior, program starts at 7:30 pm||—||7:30 pm|