Mason Family Flash

Virtual Family Weekend Spotlight: Mason Observatory

The George Mason Observatory is host to more than 1,000 visitors per year, and this year we’ve gone virtual! In partnership with the Smithsonian Associates, we are holding semi-monthly lectures with curated content from nationally renowned scientists, followed by virtual tours of our telescope and observatory.

Past speakers have included Dr. John Callas, the Program Manager for the Mars Spirit and Opportunity rovers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dr. Natalie Hinkel, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. Our next Smithsonian Associates lecture will be Monday, December 14 at 6:45 p.m., and a ticket purchase is required. Our speaker will be Dr. Tim Gregory, scientist and author of “Meteorite: the stones from outer space that made our world.” For more information, visit

We also host free, public, virtual “Evenings Under the Stars” every other Thursday during the academic year. No tickets are required for these evening events. On Nov. 5 at 8 p.m., as a part of Mason’s Virtual Family Weekend, we will host Dr. Luisa Rebull from Caltech. She will present her research on young stars. We will then remotely control our main campus telescope, with a 32-inch diameter primary mirror, to show you live views of our night sky, weather permitting.

Mason students can join our Friends of the Observatory student club, FOTO, which is holding astrophotography and pumpkin-carving contests this fall, along with other activities. Parents, families, and alumni can join our Patrons of the Observatory philanthropic organization, with tax-deductible membership donations, to support the students that operate our Observatory, provide tours, and conduct observations every clear night. Recently, students have observed candidate transiting exoplanets from the NASA TESS mission, helping to validate and confirm at least two systems as planets that orbit other stars! You might say that’s… out of this world!

Connect with us to read about celestial events in your night sky, the latest on crewed and robotic space exploration, highlights of Mason students and their research, profiles of astrophysicists, and more!

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Peter Plavchan
Associate Professor
Director, Mason Observatory

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