Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I bring myself, my family or other small group to Rainwater for programming, camping or just to observe the stars?
A: Unfortunately, we are not set up for individuals or very small groups to visit Rainwater Observatory, however do a free public program every second Friday of the month starting at 7:00pm which is usually posted a couple of weeks before on the front page of our website and in our monthly e-newsletter. This includes our main presentation, a walk through our new space science exhibits and telescope viewing afterwards with weather permitting and anything visible in the sky. These public programs are geared for individuals or very small groups like families but not larger individual groups due to our limited time and seating. Larger individual groups like schools, scouts, churches and universities will need to schedule a private program with associated fees.
Q: Is the observatory accessible to anyone physically challenged?
A: Our main buildings with the exhibits, planetarium and lecture hall are wheelchair accessible; however the telescopes for viewing are located on top of a grassy hill about 30 yards away. A person can go to the top depending on their disability. Looking through the telescopes may be difficult since they can require getting on a step ladder in the dark depending on what is being viewed. We only go up there with weather permitting and most of the programming occurs indoors in the main buildings and planetarium.
Q: Do you provide any meals with the programming?
A: Unfortunately, we are not set up to provide meals out here at this time. However, we do have a camping picnic area with grills that is ideal for bringing your own meals. There is also a Council House Restaurant within a mile of the observatory but it is advisable that you provide them advanced notice if bringing a large group.
Monthly Sky Maps from Skymaps.com
Seeing the Space Station and other Satellites
Online Astronomy News
- Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn
- Hubble Space Telescope resources and images
- Mars Exploration rovers
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
Kids Astronomy and Weather News
- The Space Place is an education and public outreach project of NASA's New Millennium Program and targeted for elementary-school-age kids.
- Sky Jinks Weather Adventures is an education and public outreach project of NASA's New Millennium Program and targeted for elementary-school-age kids.
- Astronomy For Kids
- NASA Kids Club
- Astronomy Picture of the Day with archives
- European Space Agency
Astronomy textbook from open source Wikibooks - free books which can edited (added to or corrected) by other visitors to the Wikibooks website
- Spaceweather PHONE monthly service that will call you when any new space science or astronomy events (such as appearance of a new bright comet) occur.
- AAVSO - American Association of Variable Star Observers - Information for observing and measuring the brightness curves of variable stars.
- Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers - Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers is one of the oldest amateur astronomy organizations; learn all about viewing and doing serious scientific research on solar system objects (planets, the Sun, asteroids, comets, etc.)
- Astronomical League - Confederation of U.S. astronomical societies inviting you to browse their information on astronomy and astronomical societies.
- American Meteor Society - The American Meteor Society is a collaborative effort between amateur and professional astronomers, for the purpose of conducting visual observations of both meteor showers and meteors appearing at random (sporadic meteors).
- International Dark Sky Association - A non-profit member organization that teaches others how to preserve the night sky through factsheets, law references, pictures, and web resources.