Best Places to Go Stargazing in Atlanta
Whether you’re tracking constellations or seeking shooting stars, metro Atlanta offers stellar spots for stargazing, both indoors and out. Visit one of these planetariums or observatories to scan the night skies.
This observatory, run by Georgia State University has multiple telescopes to give visitors excellent view of galaxies and planets. Professional astronomers from GSU lead free tours and observations that are open to the public one Saturday each month, March-October. 2010 Fairplay Rd., Rutledge. GSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, 404-413-6033.
Except for May-July, the observatory at Georgia Tech opens for free public nights one Thursday a month. Weather permitting, visitors can view the night sky through a 2,500 pound telescope and listen to astronomy faculty discuss the stars and phenomena currently visible. Because of its in town location, the observation deck always gives great Atlanta skyline views. Howey Physics Building, 837 State St., Atlanta. 404-385-1294.
Spanning 70 feet in diameter, Fernbank Science Center’s Jim Cherry Memorial Planetarium is one of the one of the largest in the United States. Astronomers point out planets and stars during weekly planetarium programs scheduled Thurs.-Sat. Check the calendar for details of programs and cost. For real sky views, the Dr. Ralph L. Buice, Jr. Observatory houses the largest telescope in the southeastern U.S., which is also one of the largest scientific instruments dedicated to education. Free astronomer-led public observations tale place each Thurs. and Fri. at 9 p.m. (or dark), weather permitting. Planetarium: Adults, $7; ages 3-18, $5; 2 and younger, free; Exhibit Hall and Observatory, free. Free parking. 156 Heaton Park Dr., Atlanta. 678-874-7102.
The Bradley Observatory, located on the Agnes Scott College campus, contains the 70-seat Delafield Planetarium and a 100-seat capacity lecture hall and an observing plaza for astronomical viewing. At the top of the dome resides the 30-inch Lewis H. Beck telescope, one of the largest in metro Atlanta. The Observatory hosts eight free open houses per calendar year on Friday evenings. Most focus on a physics or astronomy topic with lectures by Agnes Scott faculty, students, alumni or local scientists. During the fall and spring equinox, the open houses feature a concert. Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., Decatur. 404-471-6000.
The state-of-the-art Bentley Planetarium at Tellus Museum offers daily tours of the night sky, plus planetarium programs and science films. Planetarium programs are an additional cost with admission. The Tellus Observatory gives visitors a view of the night sky through a 20″ telescope perfect for viewing the Moon and planets in our solar system. Bonus: the observatory also houses a seismograph used to track earthquakes across the globe. Tours of the observatory are available during select evening special events. 100 Tellus Dr., Cartersville. 770-606-5700.
The O. Wayne Rollins Planetarium, located close to the Young Harris campus near Brasstown Valley Resort, has a 40-foot diameter planetarium dome. Its space simulator star projector can set the sky for any time in the past, present or future for exploration. The observatory houses a Schmidt Casse-grain telescope in a 15-foot dome that can be opened for telescope viewing. Friday Public Nights are held several times each year, including presentations on topics ranging from identifying planets and stars over North Georgia to the history of telescopes. Observatory viewing follows, if weather is clear. Maxwell Center, Young Harris College, 1 College St., Young Harris. 800-241-375.