Special astronomical occurances at FSU

Going through a special occurance, this page may be frequently updated - reload your browser to insure you have the latest version.

The FSU Astronomy Program invites the public to join us for special astronomical occurances. Viewing at the FSU Observatory requires that the sky be clear. 

We have previously arranged for the public to have supervised access to the roof of the Lyons Science Building. Members of the Sandhills Astronomical Society have been on hand to answer questions about taking up astronomy as a hobby, and will assist the public in the use of telescopes. You could bring a telescope - especially if you'd like help learning to operate it.

Our Next Event

Partial Solar Eclipse on 10/23/14

Professor Mattox will open the Observatory to the public for this at 5:45 pm. With the forecast available at 12:00 pm on 10/23/14, we can be assured of a very clear sky!

The Moon will begin to cover the Sun at 6:02 pm. Maximum eclipse will occur at 6:29 pm as the Sun sets, with 20% of the solar disk covered here in Fayetteville.

Subsequent Open House Events


Previous Events

Total Lunar Eclipse on 10/8/14

This was posted prior to the eclipse: Professor Mattox will open the Observatory to the public for this at 6:00 am if it is very clear. At 10:40 pm on 10/7, there is a decent chance that the sky will be clear enough to open the observatory. A final decision will be posted by 5:20 am on 10/8. The Moon begins to move into the Penumbra of the Earth's shadow at 4:15 am. The dimming will become very noticeable when it begins to enter the Umbra of the Earth's shadow at 5:15 am. At 6:25 am, it will first be entirely within the Umbra. At 6:55, it will be at maximum eclipse. At 7:16, the Sun will rise. This is a potentially a rare selenelion eclipse, when the eclipse of the moon and the Sunrise are visible at the same time.

It turned out that at 5:20, the sky was very clear! But I then had intermittency in internet access at home, and was unable to update this page (I was then using Time Warner Roadrunner).

I arrived at the Observatory at 6:01. Still very clear, but thin clouds were apparent at the horizon. The eclipsed Moon was apparent from our 5th floor location well into dusk. It was visible  until 6:55 pm when it reached an altitude of 4 degrees.

The upper limb of the rising Sun was first apparent at 7:18. As the Sunrise prediction for out location was 7:16, a horizon due to tree obstruction of 1 degree altitude is indicated. And this is the case for our entire horizon (except in the direction of a few campus buildings). Thus, with atmospheric refraction causing both the Sun and Moon at  the horizon to appear only 35 arcminutes higher than they actually are, our site (as good as it is for horizon), is not sufficient to see the selenelion eclipse phenomenon, even if there are no clouds.

Mercury viewing


Beginning on 10/10/12 at 7:00 pm, the FSU Observatory was to be open (if it is clear) for public observation of Mercury - Mercury was expected to be visible from 7:15 to 7:30. The Observatory would have remained open until 8:30 to view additional objects. But, due to clouds, it was not possible to see Mercury. The Planetarium was open notwithstanding from 7:00 until 8:00 to present information about Mercury.
For more information about Observatory Open House events, contact Professor John Mattox;
E-mail address: JMattox@uncfsu.nospam (change .nospam to .edu before sending);
Office phone: (910) 672-1652.