The Rice Campus Observatory is used primarily as a teaching facility for undergraduate education. Classes which make use of the observatory include Astr 201: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe and Astr 202: Exploration of the Solar System, both introductory classes for non-science majors; Astr 221: Observing the Night Sky, a new lab class for students in all academic programs; and Astr 230: Astronomy Lab, the primary course for Astronomy majors and others to learn to use a research calibre telescope and equipment including spectrometers and CCD imagers. Students in Astr 230 also learn advanced image processing techniques such as IRAF which they use on data taken at the campus observatory to do a final research project.
The next open house will be FRIDAY, March 26TH ()
-- View Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, first quarter moon, and deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula!
once a month we have
public viewing open houses on a weekend night near first quarter moon. The dates for these are posted at this
website approximately two weeks in advance.
During special astronomical events we may also have special
viewing sessions. The times for open
houses depend on local sunset times, but generally start about an hour
sunset and go on for 2-3 hours thereafter.
During summer months, when school is not in session, we might
additional open houses. During
mid-November through mid-February we suspend open houses due to the
of bad weather and holidays.
Reservations for special nights by groups or for during
houses are not practical given our limited staff, so viewing through
telescope is done on a “first-come, first-served” basis (sign-up
sheets during high attendance nights).
School groups interested in seeing an astronomical observatory
looking through telescopes should contact the George Observatory in
Fees: Unless specifically noted as Rice only above, the open houses are available to anyone. Aside from parking described above, there is no fee to attend the observatory open house.
Notes on Telescopes: The best views of planets, stars clusters and nebulae are with our computerized 16inch telescope in the dome, but we can only accommodate about 60 people an hour looking through it and on busy nights a sign-up system is employed. However, in addition to this telescope, there will be 2-3 (or more) smaller telescopes set up in the parking lot for viewing. These smaller telescopes do not require sign in. Our experience has been that the large telescope is able to see planets and the Moon well through thin clouds, and if it is clear we get good views from the smaller portable scopes as well. When the Moon is out, we will get some wonderful resolution with all the telescopes.
If you have small children, (i.e., less than about 7 years old, we recommend that they use the telescopes set up in the parking lot. The wait to see through these telescopes is much shorter than for the telescope in the dome, and small children are rarely able to discern any more detail through the large telescope. The Moon is probably the ideal target for children, as it is bright and easy to see.
For more information about astronomy and space science at Rice
to our research
and our course
listings. Additional space-related events of interest to the
can be found on the Rice Space
Special Reserved Nights
· January 20-23 (Tu-F; ~) – Astronomy 202 class (D. Alexander)
· February 2-5, 9-12, 16-20 (M-F; dusk…) – Astronomy 230 lab (C. Johns-Krull)
· February 24-26 (Tu-Th; dusk-midnight) – Astronomy 403 lab (P. Reiff)
· March 10, 11, 14, and 15 (dusk-midnight) – Astronomy 230 lab (C. Johns-Krull)
· March 19 (F; ~) – P&A Department graduate student recruits (R. Dufour)
· May 1-2 (dusk+) – SPAC reunion activities
Open House Schedules in Previous Months:
Sunday, Feb 23rd; 7-10PM - Dufour - Telescope operation for interested undergraduates.
Authorized users can
send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org to get put on the
Department of Physics & Astronomy - MS 61, Rice University, 6100
Street, Houston, TX 77005-1892
Office: 713-348-4938 Fax:713-348-4150 email@example.com