Astronomy Club


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Useful Observing Tools



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:

  1. Pay the annual dues to the treasurer of the club.
  2. 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.
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 equipment!

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 Key

  1. Be eligible for access to Prices Fork Observatory (see above).
  2. Go to Sue Teel's office in Robeson 123, or to one of the adjacent offices.
  3. Show your Hokie Passport and sign out the key.
  4. 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 911).]

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!



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Virginia Tech Physics Department