Friends of the McCormick Observatory

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Education and public outreach

The Leander McCormick Observatory has been offering education and public outreach programs to Virginians since its dedication in 1885. Visitors have twice viewed Halley’s Comet at the public night program (in 1910 and 1985–86). On October 31, 1938, the night after Orson Welles’ infamous dramatization of War of the Worlds, seventy-five students and residents of Central Virginia observed Mars through the 26-inch telescope to allay their fears of a Martian invasion. Currently over 4000 visitors, including over 2000 local school children, will attend education and public outreach programs at McCormick Observatory in a single year.

Visitation and Public Nights

In addition to conducting research in many areas of astronomy and astrophysics, the Department of Astronomy is committed to educating students, their teachers, and the general public about astronomy, space science, and the history of science. The Observatory hosts evening and daytime visits by local school children and educational groups, conducts teacher professional development workshops, offers introductory astronomy classes to the community, and opens the Observatory to the general public on the first and third Friday of every month.

Friends of the McCormick Observatory

By joining the Friends of McCormick Observatory, a non-profit membership organization established to promote and support the education and public outreach activities in the Department of Astronomy, you will:

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Membership Levels

Basic Individual

Dual/Family

Stone Fellow

Mitchell Contributor

Alden Benfactor

Fredrick Associate

McCormick Trustee

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