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Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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Public Observing Sessions

From March through October, the TCAA holds monthly observing sessions that are open to the public. These "star parties" are held at our observatory at the Sugar Grove Nature Center, a dark sky site southwest of Bloomington.

In 2018, we will hold the following observing sessions Additional prominent sky objects such as planets, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies will be viewed when visible.

DateFeatured TopicTime
March 17March Public Observing - Orion, the Hunter07:30PM - 09:30PM
Orion, the Hunter This constellation is so large and complex, that it is can serve as the basis for learning everything one needs to know about the field of Astronomy. Learn about this celestial marvel. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
April 14April Public Observing - Galaxies – Deep-space Wonders08:00PM - 10:00PM
Galaxies – Deep-space Wonders No time of year is better for observing the galaxies of deep space than spring. At this time of year, the Milky Way rings the horizon and our overhead view exposes the depths of space. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
May 19May Public Observing - Our Magnificent Moon08:45PM - 10:45PM
Our Magnificent Moon The moon has many regular features and changing appearances. Learn about our nearest neighbor in space, and observe the 5-day-old moon through a telescope. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
June 16June Public Observing - Jupiter – The King of the Planets09:00PM - 11:00PM
Jupiter – The King of the Planets The solar system’s largest planet, learn about this gas giant and its many amazing moons. Jupiter is so large it can hold as many as 1,300 planet Earths. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
July 14July Public Observing - Saturn – The Ringed Wonder09:00PM - 11:00PM
Saturn – The Ringed Wonder Our beautiful ringed planet is showing its glories this month. Join us in exploring the planet, its moons, and results from NASA’s decades-long Cassini mission. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
August 11August Public Observing - Perseid Meteor Shower08:30PM - 10:30PM
Perseid Meteor Shower Earth year during the mid-August, Earth passes through the tail of Comet Swift–Tuttle and this results in a meteor show. This year’s prospects for observing are good. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
September 08September Public Observing - Mars – The Red Planet08:00PM - 10:11PM
Mars – The Red Planet Every 25 months the Red Planet graces our evening sky. This year Mars will make its closest approach in many years, and will appear it largest in decades. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
October 13October Public Observing - Globular Clusters07:00PM - 09:00PM
Globular Clusters These star clusters are among the very oldest star systems within the Milky Way galaxy. Today a swarm of perhaps 150 tightly-packed clusters orbit the core of our home galaxy. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.

A Typical Public Viewing Session includes:
  • Lecture about the featured object.
    This 20-30 min. presentation, held in the SGNC picnic shelter, includes images of and details about the featured sky object as well as information on other interesting celestial objects that might be viewed that evening.
  • Sky tour using a laser pointer.
    We step out under the stars to point out the major constellations and planets, and to designate the location of the featured celestial object for the evening.
  • Telescope observing session.
    We use members' telescope at ground level to observe the featured object and other wonders of the heavens.

You can download our 2018 Public Viewing Session brochure.

If you would like to arrange a special event for your group, please follow this link to Request a Special Event.