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Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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Public Observing Sessions

From April 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 2019, 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
April 13Distance: How do we know how far?08:00PM - 10:00PM
We look at how we estimate distances in astronomy. In addition, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing
May 11Spectra: The Stories the Stars Tell08:30PM - 10:30PM
We look at the colors of stars to determine their chemical content and estimate their size and temperature. In addition, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
June 08Telescopes: Why Astronomers Need Them08:45PM - 10:45PM
We use telescopes to better view the wonders in the sky. We look at different type of instruments and compare and contrast their characteristics. In addition, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
July 13A History of Women in Astronomy09:00PM - 11:00PM
Many famous astronomers were women who have made significant contributions to our understanding of the universe. Join us to learn about some of them and their contributions. In addition to the presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
August 10Meteor Showers: There’s More than One08:30PM - 10:30PM
While August is the season for the Perseid meteor shower, did you know these event occur throughout the year? In addition to the presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
September 07Your First Telescope/Binoculars08:00PM - 10:00PM
Join us as we consider the variety of equipment that is available to begining astronomers. In addition to our presentation, we will have a laser-guided sky tour and telescope observing.
October 05Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto – Two Planets, or Three?07:00PM - 09:00PM
We spend a lot of time looking at the inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Few have ever seen Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. October presents a great opportunity to see all three in one night. We will learn about them, and hopefully have a look at them! In addition to the 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 2019 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.