Night Sky Classes 2019 Schedule

Spring Series

Class 1: Jan. 28, 7pm
Asterisms and Constellations
Deep Sky Objects
Sky Charts
The "Winter Hexagon"
Canis Major, Canis Minor, Monoceros, Puppis

Class 2: Feb. 4, 7pm
Sky Motion and
the Seasonal Skies
Celestial Poles and
Celestial Equator
The Ecliptic and the Zodiac
Constellations: Gemini,
Lynx, Cancer

Class 3: Mar. 4, 7pm
Obliquity of the Ecliptic
Equinoxes and Solstices
Precession and Epochs
Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Leo Minor

Class 4: Apr. 1, 7:30pm
Galaxy Clusters and
Spiral Structure and
Star Formation
The Milky Way and Our
Milky Way Neighborhood
The Galactic Halo and Globular Clusters
Constellations: Hydra, Sextans, Crater, Corvus

Class 5: Apr. 29, 7:30pm
The Solar System
The "Spring Arc"
Constellations: Leo,
Boötes, Canes Venatici

Class 6: May 6, 7:30pm
The Moon and Eclipses
Constellations: Virgo,
Coma Berenices

Summer Series
Jun. 3, Jun. 24, Jul. 1,
Jul. 22, Jul. 29, Aug. 26

Fall Series
Sep. 23, Sep. 30, Oct. 21, Oct. 28, Nov. 18, Nov. 25

The Night Sky

Lectures on our Place in the Universe and the Constellations of the Seasons

Night Sky Class

What: The three seasonal series (six classes each) are designed for everyone from total beginners to experienced amateur observers. Whether you want to learn the constellations or have a telescope and want to expand your knowledge of viewing objects, these classes have something for you.

The focus is on learning the night sky in a "geographic" sense...locating yourself in our solar system, our Milky Way and our local galaxy cluster neighborhoods!
A few constellations are introduced in each class—their myths, history and interesting stars. We also cover deep sky objects such as the beautiful nebulae and clusters that never cease to awe and amaze.

After each class (sky conditions permitting), we go outside to locate the constellations just presented. We then move to the Observatory's telescopes to view objects within the featured constellations, until or beyond 10:30 PM (11:30 PM daylight time).

Basic topics are repeated in each series so that concepts become familiar. Persons who take all three Night Sky series (18 classes in all) will learn the entire sky viewable from our northern latitude. (The winter sky is split between the Fall and Spring Series).

Handouts: Detailed informational handouts are provided at each class. These may serve as excellent reference materials for all types of observing. The handouts are compiled from a large number of sources, and the observatory strives to make certain that they are useful, accurate, and up-to-date.

Where: At The Robert Ferguson Observatory (map). Park in the gravel area near the horse corrals just outside the gate to the Group Camp/Observatory site. You do not need to pay the park day use fee to attend the class, however you must obtain a parking pass from us and take it back to your car before the class begins.

When: Presentations begin promptly at the times noted at left and last approximately 90 minutes. Please arrive about 30 minutes early on your first night to check in and obtain a parking pass.

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Purchase Tickets

Spring Series Pass is $75, available at
Brown Paper Tickets

Single session price is $23, available at

Brown Paper Tickets

Prices include admission to the State Park at class time.

Questions? Email



M51, the "Whirlpool Galaxy" photographed by RFO docents using the RFO's Robotic Telescope, 2008. More photos



"Jack Welch has created the most accessible approach to astronomy that I've found. His handouts comprise my 'go-to' observing library. I've taken all his classes and am on my second round—there's so much to learn and enjoy. Highly recommended."
—CY, Santa Rosa