The Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park hosts Open Houses at the UMD Observatory on the 5th and the 20th of every month. On Open House evenings a guest speaker will give approximately a half hour talk about a topic in astronomy. The talk is followed by viewing of celestial objects through the observatory's telescopes, weather permitting. If weather does not permit viewing, the talk will still go on as scheduled.

Upcoming Speakers

(download a copy of the Spring 2003 Speaker schedule)

  • Sunday, January 5, 8:00 pm CANCELED!
    Dr. Andrew Harris on "Infrared Astronomy and the SOFIA Airborne Observatory"

  • Monday, January 20, 8:00 pm
    Elizabeth Warner on "Observing Saturn & Jupiter"

    Saturn and Jupiter are very prominent in our evening skies currently. Learn where to look and what to look for!



  • Wednesday, February 5, 8:00 pm
    Dr. Stacy McGaugh on "What's the Universe Made Of?"

  • Thursday, February 20, 8:00 pm CANCELED!
    Dr. Derek Richardson on "Using Earth's Tides to Make Asteroid Moons"

    Asst. Prof Richardson and his students Zoe Leinhardt and Kevin Walsh are studying how tidal disruption of weak asteroids could explain how binaries form among the near-Earth asteroid (NEA) population. They find that a wide variety of outcomes are possible, from small to large companions, circular to elliptical orbits, and spheroidal to ellipsoidal shapes, depending on the close-approach distance and encounter speed of the progenitor with a terrestrial planet like the Earth. A similar process created the spectacular Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragment train (scroll down to Tidal Disruption). Click on the snapshot to see an MPEG movie (1.1 MB) showing the formation of an asteroid binary by tidal disruption. In the movie, the camera is fixed above the asteroid as it swings by the Earth (the planet passes by on the left but cannot be seen in this view). The particles that make up the asteroid have been raytraced to make the bodies look more "realistic". For more information about these experiments, see the researchers' Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 2002 conference proceedings submission (200K PDF). Stay tuned for more results from this group!





  • Wednesday, March 5, 8:00 pm
    Elizabeth Warner on "The Spring Sky"

  • Thursday, March 20, 8:00 pm
    Dr. Suchitra Balachandran on "What are stars made up of and what does that tell us?"

  • Saturday, April 5, 8:00 pm
    Dr. Lucy McFadden on "The Colors of Rocks in Space"

  • Sunday, April 20, 8:00 pm
    Dr. Amy Simon-Miller on "Galileo: The Little Spacecraft that Could"

Get a sneak peek at our Summer 2003 schedule!