1st Time Visitors/General Logistics
Whether this is the first time you are visiting or a regular, here are some notes to help make your visit more enjoyable:
Where is the UMD Observatory?
The UMD Observatory is on Metzerott Rd. about midway between Adelphi and University Blvd. (Rt 193). If you look on a map (and zoom in or out enough), you will see that the three roads (Adelphi, Univ. Blvd and Metzerott) make a triangle, with Metzerott along the north side. Like other University of Maryland buildings, we do not have a street address. Therefore, we have an entire page devoted to helping you find the UMD Observatory. There is a Google map, street view of the entrance, and an animated aerial view labeling the facility. Please review it!
We have our own parking lot however it is not very large. We highly recommend carpooling. In addition, we do have an overflow lot located roughly across Metzerott Rd at the University System of Maryland administration building.
When to arrive?
In general, it is best to arrive about 10-15 minutes before a program starts. Program descriptions will include start times and often recommend arrival times. However, we realize that it is sometime difficult to gage exactly how long it will take to get to the UMD Observatory especially if you are coming via the Beltway.
- If you do arrive very early, you might find our swing-gate still closed. Please do not block the gate. Instead park in the overflow lot and wait until it is closer to the event start time.
- If you arrive very early for the Open House public session, and are able to get into our parking lot, please wait outside or in your car until 10-15 minutes before the public session starts. Unfortunately, we do not have any waiting rooms and it is very disruptive to have people going in and out while we are trying to do the group session. There are also safety/privacy concerns with most groups, so it is important that individuals/families coming to the public session wait in their cars or outside.
Most of our events are held even if it is cloudy or raining. Event descriptions will give details about the weather policy for that event. In general though, our primary program is the Open House which is only canceled if there is a tornado, hurricane, or major snow/ice storm. If we cancel Open House, we would post a notice on our homepage. If we cancel other events, we would notify registrants by email as well as posting it on the homepage.
Please do not call and ask if we will be observing at Open House (which consists of a lecture followed by observing if the weather permits). We will be open and we make the decision about observing on the spot. It has often cleared up at the last moment and we are able to observe. Likewise, it has sometimes turned cloudy when the forecast called for clear skies. Open House will happen unless there is extreme weather.
Reservations -- Individuals/families
Individuals/families do not need reservations to attend Open Houses. However, we do have some programs that do require registration. Program descriptions will include whether or not registration is required. You can take a look at our reservation page to get an overview of what programs require a reservation.
Reservations -- Groups
Groups are done by reservation only! Please review our Groups page for information about group tours.
Other quick hints:
- The UMD Observatory is in a wooded area. During the summer, it would be prudent to bring bug spray for the observing portion of the program.
- The telescopes are outside. Dress accordingly throughout the year. We do suggest long pants and closed shoes even in the hot summer months because of the mosquitoes.
- In general, smoking is prohibited around the telescopes and building entrances. This also includes smoking "outside" because the smoke can drift towards the telescopes and damage the optics.
- Absolutely no alcoholic beverages! You will be asked to leave.
- No pets! Why? Stepping into pet patties in the dark is no fun!
- At some of our events, there may be a media presence (newspaper, radio, tv) taking photos and/or video recording the crowd. Our staff might also be taking pictures and video recording for our website. By attending our public event, you are giving your consent for us to take your picture.
Disruptions and failures to follow guidelines will not be tolerated. Anyone committing them will be asked to leave. Campus police will be called if necessary.