About the GMU Observatory

The George Mason University Observatory is located on the Fairfax Campus, on the roof of Research Hall (see campus map here) and officially opened on January 24, 2007.  The observatory is currently home to a 32″ Ritchey-Chretien Telescope, 12″ Cassegrain (Mancini), 6″ Solar Telescope, 16″ Dobsonian (Strickland), 2 Meade 12″ SCTs and 2 telescopes from Mason’s original observatory.

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Learn about our History

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Evenings Under the Stars

While the main purpose of the observatory is to meet the educational needs of George Mason’s students, it will also be a special place shared with our Washington, D.C., community. Evenings Under the Stars” public talks and tours are free and open to the region’s residents. During these special nights, attendees will enjoy stimulating presentations on the mysteries of outer space, given by world class astronomers, researchers, and educators.

These events occur on alternate Monday evenings, with weather days on the off-weeks. Each evening features a 30 minute science presentation, and if the weather allows, we proceed to the lobby, where observatory staff will escort guests up to the roof for a look through our primary telescope. These events are not recommended to students under the age of 5.

Bad weather: we may not be able to make a final decision about whether or not to postpone an event until 3pm on the day of the original event. We post the decision as an update to the individual event page, as well as our twitter feed. If weather is also bad on the backup day, we will proceed with the presentation, rain or shine, so as to be respectful of our guest speaker’s schedule. But, will likely not conduct a tour of the observatory.

Check out our schedule or calendar for more details about specific events!

Support

The GMU Observatory is financially supported by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and donations from people like you!  Donations in particular help us to purchase everything from imaging equipment for professional grade research, to play-dough for making solar system models with kids in our tours.  That is why even a few dollars can make an impact.  A plaque in the lobby of Research Hall, names donors who gave more than $1000.

To make a financial contribution, please visit the University’s Make a Gift page.  Choose “Other” from the list of funds, and specify “Astronomy Observatory” to make sure we receive your donation.

We are also generously supported by a team of volunteers who do everything from share their excitement about astronomy at public events, to minor maintenance of our facilities behind the scenes.  To volunteer, please visit the volunteer page.

Many thanks to our community of supporters!

Private Tours

While we have very limited resources, we do occasionally offer private tours. Please see the private tour page for more information.

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