Open House is the primary public event of the UMD Observatory. It is a fixed program held on the 5th and 20th of every month. The Open House consists of a group session followed by a public session. Both sessions have a presentation followed by a tour of the observatory and observing if the weather permits. We make the observing decision on the spot. Open House will be canceled if there is the threat of a tornado, hurricane, or major snow/ice storm and a note will be posted on the homepage.

Open House Evening Agenda

session schedule phase Winter
Group Session
reservation required
arrival ~6:45pm ~7:45pm
presentation 7-7:30pm 8-8:30pm
telescopes/observing 7:45- ~8:30pm 8:45- ~9:30pm
Public Session
no reservations needed
arrival ~7:45pm ~8:45pm
presentation 8-8:30pm 9-9:30pm
telescopes/observing 8:45- ~9:30pm 9:45- ~10:30pm

Only groups may reserve the group session. Groups may not attend the public session.
Individuals/families (unless the family is very large) should come for the public session. Large families (10 or more people) are considered a group and should make a group reservation accordingly.

Weather Policy

The lecture portion of the Open House is held whether it is clear or cloudy. The observing portion is held weather permitting - we make the decision on the spot. I will not be posting any type of go/no-go decisions for the observing portion. Open House will be canceled in the event of a tornado, hurricane, or major snowstorm. In those cases, a notice will be posted on the homepage. Do not call asking if we will be open, because unless there is the aforementioned extreme weather, the answer will be yes! If it is cloudy, do not call asking if we will be observing because we make that decision on the spot!


This program is free, however we do accept donations!

Other hints

  1. Please review our notes for first-time and returning visitors.

  2. Parking is very limited at the UMD Observatory. Handicap spaces are immediately in front of the lecture hall. Overflow parking is available in the Systems Admin lot (3300 Metzerott Rd.) roughly across the street. Please try to carpool!

  3. If you plan to attend the public session, please arrive
    between 7:45 - 7:55pm for the 8pm show (Nov-Apr) or
    between 8:45 - 8:55pm for the 9pm show (May-Oct).

    If you arrive earlier, please wait outside or in your car until we signal that you may enter the lecture hall. Before the public session there is usually a group session, and for a number of reasons, we simply cannot let early arrivals into the lecture hall while the group is in there.

  4. Misc.
    • Directions/maps
    • No smoking, alcoholic beverages, or pets.
    • The UMD Observatory is in a wooded area... During the bug months, we do have mosquitoes!
    • If we are observing, then we are outside... dress appropriately (fall evenings tend to get quite cool and winter nights are downright cold!!!).
    • There is no "observing only." If you wish to attend Open House, show up on time. If you wish to "observe only," sign up for the mailing list to get notices of our impromptu sessions.