FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University observatory will hold four public viewing sessions during National Dark-Sky Awareness Week, April 19-26.
The sessions on April 20-22 will run from 8 to 10 p.m., while the final session on April 24 will be from 8 to 11 p.m. These observatory sessions are open to the public free of charge.
Four planets are currently visible, and as the moon moves toward its third quarter, additional deep-sky objects will become visible.
The annual National Dark-Sky Week is a time during which Americans are asked to temporarily reduce light pollution by turning off any unnecessary lights and thus allow for better viewing of the night sky. The purpose is to inspire people to use better lighting systems that emit only a small amount of light in the atmosphere. National Dark-Sky Week was founded not only to reduce light pollution, but to connect people with the night sky.
These loosely structured FMU viewing programs allow visitors to come and go as they please. If weather conditions block viewing, the sessions will be canceled. The public may call 843-661-1355 for recorded information about the prospect of a clear sky to allow the event to be held.
The FMU observatory is located beyond the outfield fence of the FMU Softball Field, south of the Smith University Center. Visitors can park in Lot D at the southern end of the campus and follow the walkway to the observatory.
Persons requiring special assistance to visit the observatory, or seeking more information, may call 843-661-1441. The observatory webpage is http://astro.fmarion.edu/observe/