Star struck? Here's where to go
Stars streak overhead of NASA's Infared Telescope Facility on the Mauna Kea summit near Hilo, Hawaii early Sunday morning, May 16, 2004. (Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel / May 16, 2004)
Vanderbilt University's Dyer Observatory sits atop a peak in Nashville and has had telescopes pointed toward the skies since 1953. The observatory, on the National Register of Historic Places, houses instruments and astronomical artifacts dating to 1875. The telescopes are open to the viewing public for free on the second Friday of each month through November. In the daytime, the Dyer is open the first Wednesday of each month and to tours with reservations. Check out the calendar at http://www.dyer.vanderbilt.edu or call 615-373-4897 for hours and special Stellar Nights programming.
The Lowell Observatory, a private research institution founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell, is dedicated to astronomy and planetary science.
The Lowell is at 7,200-foot elevation and its observatory is open every day 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through August. There are daily guided tours of the research facilities and the Pluto Discovery Telescope, plus multimedia presentations. There are daily solar viewings at noon and nightly exploration of the moon, stars and Jupiter through the telescopes. For admission and visitor information, see http://www.lowell.edu.
On the Big Island, tourists who can withstand serious altitude can head to the mountain Mauna Kea to visit the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy. The observatory is at the top of a 9,300-foot summit and features visitor galleries and telescopes. The visitor center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers free stargazing programs nightly. Check out http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis for more information.