The Observing Program in the DRL Observatory


The night sky may be a familiar sight to you, but you will probably gaze at it from a different perspective once you complete this course. To this end, we have developed an observing program intended to be as fun as it is instructive. You will have the opportunity to observe gems of the night including the Moon, Jupiter, and the Andromeda Galaxy, while at the same time you will learn where they loom above you and how to recognize them. Flexible and convenient, the program invites you to choose from a selection of observing projects that suit your interests and to choose what night you wish to observe. So, go boldly!


Procedure for observing projects

  1. Plan ahead now; set aside a few evenings and afternoons in your schedule for possible observing. Your project will only take an hour to complete, but the weather is notoriously unreliable. Be sure to leave more than one "rain-date" open early in the semester.
  2. Make a reservation at the Astro 7 website (click on Observatory Reservations ).
    • You will not be admitted to the observatory without a reservation.
    • You must cancel in advance any reservation for sessions you are unable to attend. You do not need to cancel reservations for sessions which are cancelled due to bad weather.
    • If you do not show up for a reserved time, you will not be admitted to later sessions.
  3. On the day you plan to observe, check the weather out your window. Chances are, if you think it looks miserable, the observatory will be closed. Then, cancel that reservation and sign up for another night. If in doubt, check the observatory status. If the weather looks promising, and you haven't yet reserved a space, you may do so at the last minute. However, please understand that space is limited (space on the roof, that is); only 15 students can be accommodated in the observatory at a time. If you wait until the last minute, all spaces may be filled.
  4. Get to the observatory on time (5th floor of DRL). Once you arrive, pick up a project worksheet. Only one project will be available to you on a given night. Details for each project will be explained to you at the beginning of the observing session, so please arrive promptly.
  5. After you complete your telescope observations, you will be instructed to move to another location, if necessary, to complete the worksheet. Take a pencil and calculator with you.
  6. Please turn in the project and worksheet to your instructor by the stamped due date (one week from the actual date of the observations).


The rooftop project counts as 5% of your semester grade. The long-term observing project counts as 10% of your semester grade.