Summer nights announced at Rio Observatory

The Rio Hondo Observatory has released its summer schedule and welcomes everyone to look at the night sky on Friday, May 15, at 8 p.m.

The nights to stargaze during the summer are: June 12, June 26, July 17, July 24, and August 7. All those days are scheduled for 8 p.m.

Students, as well as anyone interested, can meet 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled start time and park in lot C. A parking permit is not required for those nights.

Attendees must meet at Observatory Road by the Child development center and walk half a mile up the road to get to the observatory.

It is strongly advised to wear comfortable shoes and to be prepared for a small hike before reaching the observatory.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own beverages and snacks but there are no restroom facilities, vending machines or water fountains up the hill.

Flashlights are not required; in fact, according to Chris Soto, Observatory Director for the Department of physical science, “We try to keep the observatory compound as dark as possible to allow they eyes to become (and stay) dark-adapted. We also encourage minimal use of cell phones for the same reason.”

Also, because RHC is full of wildlife, there is always a chance of crossing paths with various animals, but as Soto says, “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them,” meaning, the chances of them attacking anyone is unlikely. Also, as a friendly reminder, no pets are allowed.

The observatory, as well as the road leading to it are a “smoke free” environment due to the extremely high fire danger.

It is strongly advised for visitors to refrain themselves from smoking. This includes e-cigarettes.

First opened in 73’ the Rio Hondo Observatory has attracted many fans of astronomy with its Schmidt Cassegrain 16-inch reflecting telescope. A telescope bigger than the one used at the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park.

In the late 1960s, two Physical Science instructors decided to build an Observatory. There was no astronomy instructor at that time.

The instructors convinced the college to pay for half and NSF (National Science Foundation) paid the other half.

The Observatory was finished in 1972, and Astronomy Professor Aaron Martin became the Director.

Not long after, the Math and Sciences Division named the observatory in his honor, and it became the Gordon D. Crowell Astrophysical Observatory.

Soto, who has been volunteering for 15 years, has been involved since Prof. Dewayne Highfill taught the class.

Soto, not only allows anyone interested in astronomy view through the telescope, he interacts with crowds of up to 300 individuals to discuss and inform them about stars, constellations, and “give them a sense of what they’re looking at.”

In case of an emergency, there is a blue call post for anyone who needs any assistance.

For anyone curious about the night sky, or for anyone interested in viewing Los Angeles on a hill, this is an opportunity that cannot be missed.