Sky's the limit

You can see clearly now that winter is approaching, and area astronomy sites welcome stargazers



With winter setting in, you might want to look up.

Way up.

Colder temperatures reduce the amount of water particles in the air, which makes the nighttime sky more clear. Better visibility paired with an early setting sun make the colder months prime for stargazing.

Here are a few places that regularly offer up-close looks at distant stars and planets. All of these events are free and weather permitting.

Anne Arundel Community College holds Community Observing Night the second Saturday of each month. Visitors can look through their own telescopes and binoculars or one of the college's eight telescopes. The next is 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday in the Astronomy Lab, in the rear of lots A and B beside the Resource Management Building. AACC's Arnold campus is at 101 College Parkway. Call 410-777-1820.

The Baltimore Astronomical Society sponsors occasional stargazing sessions on Broadway and Thames streets in Fells Point. The next event, a Mars Party, runs 8 p.m.-midnight tomorrow. Darryl Mason, president of the club, will hook his telescope to a video screen to make viewing easier.

Every Friday at dusk, the Maryland Space Grant Observatory holds an open house. Visitors are led to the roof to peer through the main telescope there. The Maryland Space Grant Observatory's open houses are at the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy on the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St. Call 410-516-6525, or visit

The Maryland Science Center's Crosby Ramsey Memorial Observatory is open to the public 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Fridays. The nearly 80-year-old telescope is hooked up to several TV screens in the observatory to make viewing easier. The science center is at 601 Light St. Call 410-545-2999, or visit

The Harford County Astronomical Society will host a stargazing session at dusk Saturday at Harford Technical High School, 200 Thomas Run Road in Bel Air. Visit

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County sponsors stargazing on the first Thursday of each month. About an hour after sunset, people can look through the main telescope on top of the physics building. Graduate students discuss various aspects of astronomy. UMBC is at 1000 Hilltop Circle. Visit

The University of Maryland Observatory holds open houses the 5th and 20th of every month. The program starts at 8 p.m. and features a speaker who discusses astronomy, followed by stargazing through the university's telescopes. On Nov. 20, Barbara Mattson will discuss "Dark Energy: A Modern Science Mystery." The observatory is on Metzrott Road between University Boulevard and Adelphi Road in College Park. Call 410-405-6555 or visit

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