It's our mostly-monthly public open house: you get to use our equipment and our volunteers' knowledge to see what's out there in the sky tonight.
We usually stay as long as the skies are clear and there are interested observers - usually around midnight, but on nice nights even later.
You don't have to stay the whole time - though we ask that you aim your headlights away from the observing field in case you have to leave early. Feel free to email us if you have any questions.
We only require a few things for your safety and enjoyment:
It will be getting dark early, so please plan to be at the observatory before dark. Be careful with headlights on your way in, especially after sundown. Make sure to turn the dome lights off if possible, and park your car facing away from the observing field if you have running lights. The park prefers that all vehicles park along the road but you may see some vehicles parked near the observatory. They are usually club members with large telescopes set up for you to look through.
Please don't use white light flashlights when others are observing. Others will have flashlights, but if you'd like to bring your own, you can easily make a red-light flashlight that will help you get around in the dark and is safe for night vision. You can read ideas here.
No alcoholic beverages are permitted.
Other advice to help you make the most of your evening:
Weather, especially in Michigan, is unpredictable. We are always (some might say irrationally) hopeful, but if there's a solid chance of an extended downpour we are not likely to do any observing! If you're not sure about the weather, call Joseph Tocco, or Bob Berta, Marty Kunz, and Jonathan Kade to check if the open house has been canceled.
Observing is an outside activity, so dress accordingly - a little warmer than the temperature would indicate. Even in the summer, it can get surprisingly chilly at night. Like any other activity, the key to lasting is layers, layers, layers! In the wintertime and early spring, plan to wear at least two layers of every garment: socks, pants, and a shirt. Core temperature is important too, so pay extra attention to keeping your torso warm - an insulated vest can work wonders.
Importantly, the Camp Rotary grounds have full-service public restrooms, with warm running water and other modern conveniences.
If there's something specific you'd like to see, we'll do our best to make it happen. We have safe, filtered solar telescopes to look at the sun in amazing detail before it gets dark; if you're interested in seeing our local star, let us know and we'll try to make a telescope available.