University of Maryland Observatory
3300 Metzerott Rd, College Park, MD, USA
www.astro.umd.edu/openhouse/… - 301-405-6555
University of Maryland Observatory College Park Reviews
Free star-gazing on the outskirts of DC! Fantastic! Jul 13, 2011
I can't even remember how I found this place, but on the 5th and 20th of every month, the University of Maryland's Observatory Program is open to the public. Their programs are at 8pm from Nov-Apr and at 9pm from May-Oct. The night begins with a short presentation (usually 30 minutes) and then you get to look throught 3 telescopes at specific things in the night sky (as long as the weather is cooperating).
The Open House programs at the Observatory have certainly ranged from complex topics (the existance and density of Black matter or something like that) to how to spot asteroids. It is kid friendly if you pick the right topic, but there are advance night-time tycoons that ask the presenters all sorts of question I don't understand. This is all to say that you MUST check the website before going to ensure you will have a good time and understand the topic. Sometimes, families bring kids without the intent of them listening to the presentation, but just to be able to look through an old, but $100,000 telescope while other times, it's the children that have interesting and thought provoking questions!
The website has lots of info about how to visit. They only have a parking lot for 20 cars so you need to get there ontime; otherwise, you will have to park across the street and then cross a very dark 2 lane street at night (withoug street lihts). If you're driving too fast or if it's just your first time, the entrance is EASY to pass. If you miss it, just come back around again and drive slower. The website has a picture of the sign to look for-so just imagine that very same sign, but in the dark!
It's a great free event to do here in DC, but it gets tough when there's an interesting topic at 8pm on a Tuesday in September and you know you have an early meeting the next morning or have to get the kids in bed, for it's a great venue to visit a few times a year and I hope you ENJOY!
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