GO/No-go status

This decision will be made at about 7pm each night. Please check here first (shift-ctrl-reload (or refresh) to force your browser to reload) rather than calling.

Tue 11 May, 9pm NO GO!!
Wed 12 May, 9pm GO!
Thu 13 May, 9pm GO!
Fri 14 May, 9pm GO!

Updated: 14 May

Although there are three comets visible in the skies during April and May 2004, only one is predicted to be easily visible in the evening sky. The UMD Observatory is NOT the best location. In fact, we won't be able to use our main telescopes, but instead will rely on our portable telescopes and local amateurs. Please drive slowly once you enter the UMD Observatory lot and follow the instructions of our guides or park across the street at the Systems Administration lot.


Q: Are you going to have special observing sessions for viewing Comet NEAT?
A: YES!

Q: Is the UMD Observatory the only place to see Comet NEAT?
A: NO! If possible, head away from town to a dark location with a good clear western horizon. Watch the sunset and shortly after dark you'll see Comet NEAT.

Q: Don't you need a telescope to see comets?
A: It depends! Most comets are dim and therefore "not interesting" to the general public and those usually require telescopes to be seen. However, brighter ones like Comet NEAT are often best seen through binoculars or even with just your eyes under dark skies.

  • The UMD Observatory is in a wooded area. Bring bug spray!
  • In general, smoking is prohibited around the telescopes... 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.
  • There will likely be a media presence (newspaper, radio, tv) on some of the clear nights taking photos and video recording the crowd. Our staff will also be taking pictures and video recording for our website. By attending this public event, you are giving your consent for us to take your picture.

These special observing sessions are FREE but we will gladly accept donations!! You do not need a reservation to attend.

  • PARKING: We anticipate a high interest in these special observing sessions. Please try to carpool. Our lot will be limited as we may need to set up the telescopes in the lot to get the best horizon. Follow the instructions of the guides. Parking will be available at the UMD Systems Admin lot just across the street from the Observatory. PLEASE drive carefully as there will be many people coming and going.
  • DIRECTIONS: We do not have a street address! But we are located on the portion of Metzerott Rd that forms a triangle with Adelphi and Univ. Blvd. Detailed directions/maps...
  • When to arrive: You do not need to be there right at 8:30pm!! The sun sets fairly late and we have to wait for it to get dark (nearly 9pm!) before we will be able to see the comet. We expect to close around 10pm when the comet sets or sooner if clouds or haze block our view.
  • BYO...T!: Bring your own telescope! If you have a telescope and would like to set up and observe on the concrete pad or grassy area, please do! I will not, however, be able to answer questions about setting up your telescope! The UMD Observatory of course will have its own scopes set up for observing for the public, but if you have a bad horizon at home and want to set up here, that's fine.