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Skywatching

Morehead hosts free skywatching sessions every month (weather permitting). Morehead educators and CHAOS members (from Chapel Hill Astronomical & Observational Society) bring telescopes and guide you through fun observations of stars, planets, moons, nebulae and other celestial objects. You might even see a few meteors! 

What Happens at a Skywatching Session?

Skywatching sessions are very informal and family-friendly. Each session is scheduled for two hours, but you can arrive and leave at any time during the session. During the evening, you might do any of these things:

  • Peek through telescopes for up-close views of celestial objects
  • Take a laser-guided "star tour" of the night sky
  • Learn where to look for major constellations
  • Listen to legends told by ancient cultures about the constellations
  • Ask the astronomers for answers to all the astronomy questions you have!

Still have questions about Skywatching? Check out our Skywatching FAQs.

Please note: Because of Earth's rotation, some sky objects may be visible during only part of a skywatching session, depending on the times they rise and set. Click here for a June/ July 2018 map of the stars.

Skywatching Sites

Morehead skywatching sessions are typically held at three different locations: Ebenezer Church Recreation Area, part of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. This site has restrooms, a picnic shelter and a sandy beach area. You'll find the telescopes at the far (west) end of the parking lot. Click here for directions for Ebenezer Church Recreation Area; Little River Regional Park, off Guess Road at the Durham/Orange county border. Click here for directions to Little River Regional Park; and Dorothea Dix Park located in downtown Raleigh, near Umstead Dr. Click here for directions for Dorothea Dix Park.

Skywatching sessions may also be hosted at Stagville State Historic Site and other area locations. To request a skywatching session at another location, contact planets@unc.edu.

Check the Weather

It's hard to see stars through a cloud cover, so Morehead cancels skywatching sessions if the weather forecast predicts stormy or cloudy conditions. Cancellation decisions are made as soon as possible -- at least two or three hours in advance.

To see any cancellation notices, check Morehead's Twitter and Facebook news feeds. You can also call Morehead Guest Relations at 919-962-1236 to check on the status of any skywatching session.

 

More Info

Schedule

Skywatching: The Perseid Edition

This session is being held at the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, so keep your eyes pointed skyward even when you are not looking through a telescope! Bring a blanket or chairs so you can relax under the stars. This skywatching session will be located at Dorothea Dix Park on the Big Field. This is bordered by Blair Drive, Barbour Drive and Biggs Drive. Registration is free. 

Aug 12 2018 -
9:00pm to 11:00pm

Stagville Under the Stars

Join us for a night of West African storytelling and stargazing at Historic Stagville in Durham. Learn about the oral tradition that might have been preserved by enslaved families. In this new summer edition of our popular winter program, we will see a totally different seasonal night sky! Make sure to get there on time or you may miss a part of the storytelling!

Aug 24 2018 - 8:00pm

Skywatching at Little River Regional Park

Oct 12 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:30pm

Skywatching at Little River Regional Park

Nov 16 2018 -
6:30pm to 8:30pm

Skywatching at Little River Regional Park

Dec 14 2018 -
6:30pm to 8:30pm