Classes for Amateur Astronomers

Here it is! Our summer program "Learn the Sky Nights" is back!

This year we are holding the classes on Tuesday evenings! Classes start on 12 July!!

[NOTE: I will be out of the office from 15-27 June. You can still send in your registration by email, but I will not be able to send a confirmation until I'm back in the office on 28 Jun!!]

We will have the 'beginner course' and if enough people show an interest we will hold the 'advanced course' as well.
  • Have you ever wondered about what that bright star is near the moon? Or how do amateur astronomers know where to look in the sky? Have you ever gone to some of the astronomy websites and wondered what the heck they were talking about?

    Then the 'beginner course' is for you!

  • Are you tired of observing the Messiers? Have you done some astrophotography but want to take it to the next level? Are you tired of just observing and want your observing to have some purpose?

    Then the 'advanced course' is for you! This class is open to graduates of last year's Learn the Sky program and individuals who can demonstrate that they have already mastered the topics covered in the beginner class.

For six Tuesday nights starting 12 July (2016), we will cover some of the basic (7:00 - 8:30 pm) and advanced (9:00 - 10:30 pm) topics in amateur astronomy.

We anticipate this being a popular program, so be sure to download the registration form and email it or fax (301-314-9067) it back to Elizabeth! Preference will be given to those who attend all six evenings. Families are welcome... students under 17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult (other than me!)!

The classes will be a mixture of lecture, activities, and hands-on lessons. When the weather permits, we will use the observatory telescopes. In addition, there will be some 'homework' each week!


  • Registration -- download the registration form and email it or fax (301-314-9067) it back to Elizabeth.
    -- .pdf
    -- .doc
    -- .html

  • Cost -- $10 per person per class ($60 for the entire course); payment can be made at the first class you attend. Cash or Checks, checks made out to the University of Maryland.

  • Course Credit -- None, this is strictly a fun course for amateurs and other interested individuals who want to learn more about astronomy.

  • Class cancellations -- classes will only be canceled in case of extreme weather. A message announcing any class cancellations will be posted on the UMD Observatory homepage and on Elizabeth's phone (301-405-6555). Participants will be emailed.


week date Beginner
7:00 - 8:30pm
9:00 - 10:30pm
1 12 Jul 2016 alt az, planispheres, satellites and constellations
CCD basics, digital imaging
2 19 Jul 2016 RAdec, starcharts, starhopping, planetarium software observing projects
3 26 Jul 2016 types of scopes, setting up scopes, telescope making tbd
4 2 Aug 2016 types of objects, Messier and other lists tbd
5 16 Aug 2016 astrophotography and digital imaging tbd
6 23 Aug 2016 observing projects, Solar observing tbd

Elizabeth Warner, the UMD Observatory director, will be teaching the classes. If you have any questions, please email her or call her at 301-405-6555. (She will be out of town 15-27 Jun and will respond when she returns!)