Would you like to bring your class, scout troop, hobby club, large family, or other group to the UMD Observatory? We have two options available:

  • Night program: Evening group sessions are held on the 5th and 20th of each month as part of the UMD Observatory Open House. The group session is held an hour before the public session. Group sessions start at:
    8pm May-Oct (summer)
    7pm Nov-Apr (winter)

    The evening consists of a short presentation by either the regularly scheduled guest speaker or Elizabeth Warner, UMD Observatory Coordinator. Following the presentation, the group then tours the observatory and observes through the telescopes, weather permitting. The presentation portion and tour are held even if it is cloudy or rainy. Evening group sessions are often booked 3-6 months out with sessions that fall on Friday or Saturday nights getting booked about 6-12 months out.

  • Day program: Ideal for school and camp groups that can only do field trips during the day! The UMD Observatory is now equipped with solar filters for safe viewing of the sun. This program starts with a brief lecture about the sun followed by a tour of our observatory, and then solar observing if the weather permits. These programs are held Monday through Friday during the day, preferably sometime between 9am and 3pm.

Making a reservation

  • A minimum of 10 people is required for a group event. Be sure to include scouts/students as well as any siblings and parents/chaperones who will also be coming! We can seat up to 75, but we usually try to keep the group under 50. If you have a very small group, then you might get paired with another small group.
  • Select a first, second, and third choice date.
  • Have one person from the group serve as the point of contact. That one person should make the reservation, ask any questions, etc. Getting multiple calls from different people within a group creates confusion.
  • Once you have decided on whether you want a day or a night session and potential dates (and times for day tours), call 301-405-6555 or email Elizabeth to make the reservation.
  • I usually respond within 24 hours for most requests. If you don't hear back from me within 48 hours, check your spam folder to make sure my response didn't end up in there. And if you have some kind of security that wants me to register to send you an email, go ahead and adjust it to accept my email address, because I'm not going to register.

If you are bringing a group, please carpool as much as possible as we have limited parking.