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College of Arts & Sciences
Physics and Astronomy


Touring the Melton Observatory

Public Observing...

The Melton Observatory is open to the public on clear Monday nights (currently 8-10pm) throughout the year, weather permitting. Visitors can view the moon, planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and any other interesting objects currently in the sky depending on seeing conditions. We may also open for special astronomical events. These events will be posted on our home page as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages as they are available. Visit the Sky Report page to see what's currently visible in the night sky. There is no fee for visiting the observatory. Remember to dress for the weather!

Notice for Younger Children...

All age groups are welcome to visit the observatory, but we ask that any young children be kept under very close supervision as the equipment we use is very sensitive and expensive and can be damaged easily. Running and any form of horseplay around the equipment will not be tolerated and you may be asked to leave in this event.

Handicap Accessibility...

The lower level of the observatory is handicap accessible; however, the observing areas upstairs as well as the restroom on the main level are not wheelchair accessible. Visitors must also access the observing areas by ascending a tall narrow spiral staircase. Individuals with difficulties ascending stairs may not be able to access the observing areas. We recently installed a large monitor in the hallway of the main level downstairs so that individuals who are unable to ascend the stairs can still enjoy views from the telescopes via video feed. If you require special accomodations for your visit, please let us know ahead of time, so we can make the proper arrangements for your needs.


 

Group Programs...

Scouts, school, church, home school, and any other groups may visit the Melton Observatory. To arrange a tour, send an email to melton@physics.sc.edu and let us know your name, your group name, age group, group size, and when you would like to visit. Be sure to have some secondary dates in case your first choice is not available, or bad weather forces a rescheduling of your primary date.

Day Visit...

What will I learn? Your group will be given a tour of the building, dome and telescopes, and your group will observe the Sun through an appropriately filtered telescope. Solar properties and characteristics will be discussed during observations.

When can I come? Tours can be scheduled during daylight hours generally any weekday. These times may be limited during the school year as several student classes are held each week at the observatory during the day.

How long will the tour last? Most day tours last about an hour.

What about the weather? If cloudy weather is in the forecast for the day of your visit, we will reschedule your visit for another day. Please have a secondary date available when setting up your tour as this makes it easier to reschedule in the event of poor weather conditions.

What age group is appropriate for this tour? Tours are generally appropriate for late elementary school ages (approximately 3rd grade) and older; however, solar observations may be more appropriate for older students with a stronger science background.

What does it cost? Tours are always FREE!

Night Visit...

What will I learn? Your group will be given a tour of the building, dome and telescopes, and will observe a variety of objects such as the Moon, planets, stars, star clusters, nebulea, galaxies, and any other interesting objects currently in the sky depending on seeing conditions. Objects types, formation, size, distance, etc. are discussed. Call us ahead of time to find out what objects will be visible to help plan your visit. See our Sky Report section to see what's in the sky right now.

When can I come? Tours can begin as early as 30 minutes after sunset. When school is in session, student classes are held at the observatory four to five nights per week, so touring times may be very limited during the school year; however, you are more than welcome to bring your group during Public Observing hours, just let us know in advance that you plan to bring your group to Public Observing.

How long will the tour last? Most night tours last about an hour, but can be longer depending on your group's needs.

What about the weather? If cloudy weather is in the forecast for the day of your visit, we will reschedule your visit for another day. Please have a secondary date available when setting up your tour as this makes it easier to reschedule in the event of poor weather conditions.

What age group is appropriate for this tour? Tours are generally appropriate for late elementary school ages (approximately 3rd grade) and older; however, we have accomodated students as young as kindergarden.

What does it cost? Tours are always FREE!

It may also be possible for members of the observatory staff to come to your school or function to do daytime and nighttime observations. These programs are also free, but availability may be significantly limited while USC classes are in session.

Please contact us by email at melton@physics.sc.edu if you are interested in setting up a tour.