Michigan State UniversityObservatory
Telescope images

Public Observing

When is the next public observing night?

The calendar of events for the observatory is here. Be sure to check out our Facebook page as well.

How much does public observing cost?

It's free!

Where is the observatory? Where can I park?

The observatory is located next to the Ag Pavilion at the corner of Forest Rd and College Rd. Free parking is available just before the entrance and anywhere in the grass along the drive to the observatory, as indicated on the map below. (Click here for a full-size version.)

Can I look through the observatory telescope?

Yes. The large 24-in telescope is open to the public and will point to various objects throughout the evening. Many smaller telescopes will also be set up near the observatory entrance for public use.

Is public observing wheelchair accessible?

Our 24-in telescope is not accessible, as it is upstairs without an elevator. However, we usually have additional telescopes set up outside the building on the ground floor, which are indeed wheelchair accessible.

Are young children able to look through the telescope?

Absolutely. We have step stools so viewing can be done by all ages and heights.

What can I expect to see?

Objects in the sky are seasonal. Possible objects include the Moon, planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Check out NightSkyInfo for a preview of what is visible in the night sky.

What time should I arrive?

Observing usually starts at 9pm and ends at 11pm. During the summer, we start observing at 9:30pm.

Under what conditions will you cancel observing?

We will cancel if the sky is entirely overcast with no chance of clearing, or if precipitation is likely. If we do cancel, we’ll send out an alert on Twitter and post our status on Facebook.

Can I bring my own telescope?

You are welcome to bring your own telescope. You can find detailed information about the site and observing conditions on our “for astronomers” page.

Did you know?

Between 1986 and 2008, approximately 32,000 members of the general public attended the observatory's open houses.

These public observing nights are co-sponsored by the MSU Physics & Astronomy Department, Abrams Planetarium, and the Capital Area Astronomy Association.