Stargazing Events in Austin and Beyond

On Sunday, September 27, 2015, stargazers can enjoy a stunning “Supermoon total lunar eclipse.”  According to NASA officials, the supermoon will begin to dim at 7:11 p.m. The total eclipse will begin at about 9:11 p.m. Here are a few places to get a good look at this lunar phenomenon on Sunday, plus other stargazing events coming up this fall.

The “E”-Rock “E”-clipse Party (Fredericksburg) – Sunday, September 27 at 7 p.m.

Join a Park Ranger for a hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock for the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. The hike will begin at 7:00 p.m. from the gazebo at the start of the Summit Trail.  Visitors will need to be headed down the rock no later than 11:30 p.m. as the park will be closing at midnight. What to Bring:  A blanket, good hiking shoes, binoculars, and a flashlight for the hike back down. Cost:  $7 per person age 13 and over; free for those 12 and under.  (Bring cash or check with exact change since the office will be closed and you will need to use the self-pay envelopes located at the front door of the park headquarters). Please do NOT bring pets as this will be a very crowded event. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg.

Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party on Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge – Sunday, September 27 from 7:30-10:30 p.m.

View Sunday’s total lunar eclipse from the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge over Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, weather permitting. It should be a great evening to walk the Town Lake trail for some spectacular views. A penumbral (red) eclipse begins before the moon rises at 7:15. The dark partial eclipse begins at 8:07, totality at 9:15, maximum at 9:47, partial eclipse ends at 11:27, and the penumbral eclipse ends at 12:22 a.m.

Fountainwood Observatory Public Night (Georgetown) – Sunday, September 27 from 8-10:30 p.m.

Sunset 7:21 p.m. Astronomical twilight ends 8:41 p.m. Lunar Phase 100% – Full Moon. Partial Eclipse begins 8:07 p.m., Total Eclipse begins 9:11 p.m., Eclipse Maximum 9:47 p.m. Full Eclipse ends 10:23 p.m., Partial Eclipse ends 11:27 p.m.

There will also be a FREE Public Night at Fountainwood Observatory on Saturday, October 17 from 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Fountainwood Viewing Nights are always FREE and open to the public. The Observatory is located on the northeast side of the Southwestern University campus, adjacent to the Rockwell Baseball Field. Parking is available along Southwestern Boulevard, behind the Corbin J. Robertson Center in Georgetown.

Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party at McKinney Falls State Park – Sunday, September 27 from 9-10 p.m.

Come check out the lunar eclipse at McKinney Falls State Park! Bring blankets or chairs and relax while checking out this cool astronomical event. A ranger will bring a telescope and other star gazing materials. Admission to the Park is $6 for guests age 13 and up; children under 13 are FREE. 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin.

Free stargazing Austin UT

16-inch telescope at Robert Lee Moore Hall

Wednesday Night Star Party at UT – Wednesdays, September 23 to October 28 from 8-10 p.m. and November 4 to December 2 from 7-9 p.m. No viewing November 25 due to Thanksgiving. ** There will be no public viewing events for the September 27 lunar eclipse. **

Every Wednesday night while UT is in session, the Astronomy Department sponsors FREE public star parties on the top roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall, which is located at the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Once you reach RLM, take the elevators to the 17th floor and then follow the signs to the stairs up to the telescope. Click here for map to RLM and nearby parking garages. All ages are welcome, but younger children must be under adult supervision at all times. Viewing times change throughout the year so please check this page for current times before planning your visit. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information. (This line is updated approximately 30-45 minutes before the scheduled start time.)

Friday and Saturday Night Public Viewing at UT – Fridays and Saturdays, September 26 to October 31 from 8-10 p.m. and November 6 to December 5 from 7-9 p.m. No viewing November 27 and 28 due to Thanksgiving. Please note that there will be no viewing on Saturdays when the UT football team has a late-afternoon or evening home game. Please check the schedule at TexasSports.com. ** There will be no public viewing events for the September 27 lunar eclipse. **

Every Friday and Saturday while UT is in session, the Department of Astronomy hosts FREE viewing on the Painter Hall Telescope. Both Friday and Saturday nights are open to the general public. Painter Hall is located at the corner of 24th street and Inner Campus Drive, just to the north of the UT Tower. Click here for map to Painter Hall and nearby parking garages. All ages are welcome, but younger children must be under adult supervision at all times. Viewing times change throughout the year, so please check this page before planning your visit.  Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information. (This line is updated approximately 30-45 minutes before the scheduled start time.) To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.

Science Under the Stars

  • October 8: Emily Beth Rees (plant defenses)
  • November 12: Emlyn Resetarits (chameleons)
  • December 10: TBD

Science Under the Stars is a FREE public outreach lecture series. Events start at 7:30 p.m. outdoors at Brackenridge Field Laboratory. Arrive early for refreshments and fun activities for kids of all ages! Guided tours of the field lab start at 7 p.m. (wear sturdy shoes and bring water). Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin.

Eagle Eye Observatory in Burnet

Eagle Eye Observatory in Burnet

Public Star Party at Canyon of the Eagles (Burnet) – Saturdays, October 10, November 14 and December 5 at dusk.

Open to all.  Park entry fees apply ($6 for ages 12 and up; children under 12 are FREE). The star parties are held at the Eagle Eye Observatory at the Canyon Of The Eagles location. (See driving directions and maps.) For go/no-go information, please call the Canyon of the Eagles lodge at 800-977-0081. Map to Eagle Eye Observatory. 16942 FM 2341, Burnet.

Westcave Star Party (Round Mountain)

2015 -2016 future star party dates:

  • October 10, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • November 14, 6-8 p.m.
  • December 12, 6-8 p.m.
  • January 9, 6-8:30 p.m.
  • February 27, 7-9 p.m.

Take a tour of the night skies at Westcave, a dark sky location convenient to the Austin area. Star nights are an ideal opportunity to enjoy an evening gazing at the stars through a high-quality telescope. **Registration required** $5 per child ages 4-12 years; $10 per adult; $25 per immediate family. Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, 24814 Hamilton Pool Rd., Round Mountain.

Stargazing at the Roughs (Cedar Creek) – Fridays, October 16 and December 11 from 9-10:30 p.m.

Do not miss this opportunity for the whole family to explore the galaxy together as an astronomer takes you on a tour of the Milky Way that is truly out of this world! Behold the wonder of the cosmos through Dobsonian telescopes and venture beyond the boundaries of our planet. Learn about the legends of the constellations and marvel at the beauty and mystery of the universe in this spectacular FREE program for the whole family. Bring your own lawn chairs and refreshments (recommended). The program will be canceled in the event of inclement weather. Please call 512–303–5073 to find out the program’s status before 5 p.m. the day of the event, or check the McKinney Roughs Nature Park webpage at www.lcra.org/mckinneyroughs. No registration is required. FREE, all ages. McKinney Roughs Nature Park, 1884 State Highway 71West, Cedar Creek.

2015-2016 ACC Star Party (Round Rock and Austin)

ACC will host Star Parties with hands-on events at two campuses. These events are FREE and open to the public.

Belterra Community Star Party (Dripping Springs) – Friday, October 16 from 7-9 p.m.

Belterra is becoming a regular star party event for folks in the Dripping Springs area.  If you haven’t had a chance to get out and see the stars, Belterra is a great place to start. The October 16 event will begin at 7 p.m. with a “What’s in the Sky Tonight” presentation.  This is a FREE community outreach star party oriented toward families with children to middle school age and their parents. Games and puzzles for all ages plus a great look at the waxing crescent Moon, the stars and maybe even a few planets make this a stellar event.  As usual, keep an eye on the weather.  Mother Nature may have other ideas. For more information, contact the Lifestyle Director at Belterra, 512-364-7868.

Girlstart Starry NightsIn related Astronomy news, the Texas Museum of Science and Technology just received its first equipment for their new planetarium and Girlstart will host a FREE Starry Nights event with their mini planetarium on Thursday, October 1, 2015.

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