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Public Outreach

Education and Public Outreach Program

In addition to educating undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Virginia, the Astronomy Department has an Education and Public Outreach program that addresses astronomy and science education for the general public, families, and students in grades K-12.

Public Night Program at McCormick Observatory

McCormick Observatory is open to the public on the first and third Friday evenings of every month. For a schedule and more information, please see our Observatory Public Night Program page or call the public night information line (434) 243-1885.

Public Night Program at Fan Mountain Observatory

Fan Mountain Observatory is open to the public twice a year, once in April and once in October. For a schedule and more information, please see our Observatory Public Night Program page or call the public night information line (434) 243-1885.

Dark Skies, Bright Kids

Dark Skies, Bright Kids is an after school astronomy program for elementary students in rural schools in Albemarle County offered by Kelsey Johnson and many of our graduate students.

Friends of McCormick Observatory Program

The Friends of McCormick Observatory is a non-profit membership organization to promote and support the education and public outreach activities of the Department of Astronomy. Members are eligible for a number of benefits. Please contact Ed Murphy for more information.

Heidi Winter Endowment Fund for Education and Public Outreach Programs of the McCormick Observatory

The Heidi Winter Endowment provides a permanent source of support for the educational programs of the McCormick Observatory and will enable the Observatory to expand its educational and outreach programs. This fund honors the memory of Heidi Winter, a member of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society, a founding Friend of McCormick Observatory, and former executive secretary to the Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, who passed away in 2012. Please contact Ed Murphy for more information.


Adult Enrichment Classes

The Astronomy Department offers introductory astronomy classes on a variety of subjects for members of the Charlottesville community who are interested in learning about astronomy but do not need formal credit. The class is offered on Tuesday evenings at McCormick Observatory. Registration is through the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Enrollment is limited to 35 people, and the class fills quickly. Weather permitting, participants in the class will use the historic 26-inch McCormick Refractor in addition to lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Please contact Ed Murphy for more information.


Teacher Professional Development

The Astronomy Department offers a two-week summer program for Virginia teachers in grades 4-9. Teachers earn a stipend for their participation and are given over $400 worth of equipment for use in their classrooms. Housing is provided. Weather permitting, the teachers use small telescopes at night to explore the sky. Please contact Ed Murphy for more information.

Undergraduate Education

With over 1000 students enrolling each year, the Astronomy Department’s introductory astronomy ASTR 1210/1220/1230 sequence is the most popular science sequence at the University of Virginia. See our Course Offerings page for a list of our current classes.


NK Spelman

UVA Associate Professor Nitya Kallivayalil (center) with UVA-Spelman REU program students Zaniyah Dock (left) and Temi Olatinwo (right).