Useful Observing Tools
- SkyMaps's Evening Sky
Map and Calendar Nice PDF sky chart for the current month, showing
stars, constellation lines, planets, and Messier objects. Makes it easy
to figure out what interesting things are visible on a given evening.
Nice calendar comes with the map, detailing celestial events of interest
for the current month.
Small's Telrad Messier Maps PDF maps showing the location of each
Messier object, centered in a Telrad, shown with respect to the nearby
stars. Makes it easy to find and center a Messier object in a telescope
(if the telescope is equipped with a telrad; the C14 at Prices Fork has
a telrad). Messier objects are the brightest 100, or so, galaxies,
nebulae, and star clusters in the sky.
- The Astronomy Connection's
Observing Targets Page Lots of useful information for the
more advanced telescopic observer.
Upcoming Passes of the ISS A list of times when the International Space
Station will be visible in the sky, from HeavensAbove. Location set for
- Clear Sky Chart for
the Blacksburg area:
General Info, Key Usage Rules
The Physics Department maintains and operates
its astronomical observatories for use in its classes on Astronomy.
The administration and operation of the Astronomy Club of Virginia
Tech is independent of the Physics Department. A Physics Department
faculty member acts as an advisor for the Club, and as the contact
between the Physics Department and the Club. The current faculty
advisor is Dr. John Simonetti.
The primary purpose of the Astronomy Club is to provide interested students
with access to the Physics Department's Prices Fork Observatory.
All students are eligible; members are not required to be physics majors.
To obtain access to the Prices Fork Observatory, Astronomy Club members
must do the following:
Minor equipment problems should be reported for repair to the Observatory
Coordinator on the next weekday. If the problem can't wait (e.g., you can't
get the dome to close) call the Coordinator immediately.
DO NOT attempt to repair, clean, or otherwise physically alter any of the
Pay the annual dues to the treasurer of the club.
Attend a checkout session for training in operating the telescope and
dome. These checkout sessions are usually conducted as part of a club
meeting. You will learn the procedures for the proper
use of the Prices Fork Observatory.
NOTHING WHATSOEVER (telescopes, equipment, books, etc.) is to be removed
from the observatory by anyone without prior approval of the Observatory
coordinator. Penalty: revocation of key privileges.
Note that the classes and public shows sometimes occur at the observatory.
The events take precedence over club activities. Public open houses generally
take place on Friday evenings during the fall and spring semesters.
Rules for the Use of the Prices Fork Observatory
- Be eligible for access to Prices Fork Observatory (see above).
- Go to Sue Teel's office in Robeson 123, or to one of the adjacent offices.
- Show your Hokie Passport and sign out the key.
- Return the key within 24 hours, or by the same time on Monday if the key is signed out on a Friday.
The key holder may not deny access to the observatory to any other club
member who wishes to join him there. However, the key holder has first
choice over the use of telescope and other equipment.
[There is one exception to this rule: If, for reasons of safety
or the protection of the observatory, in the key holder's judgment a club
member and/or guest(s) should not be allowed access to the observatory,
the key holder should immediately contact the Observatory Coordinator.
If the Coordinator cannot be reached, the key holder can deny access to
the other person(s). If you are really in a jam, call the Police (dial
The person who signed out the key is officially in control of the
key. Furthermore, the person who signed out the key is officially responsible
for whatever happens at/to the observatory while the key is signed out.
Thus, whatever he/she decides is final. However, club members are
urged to be nice to each other!
July 2000: Links2Go ranked this page as 17th among the 50 most cited
webpages related to the topic "US Clubs."
Virginia Tech Physics Department