PLANETARIUMS AND OBSERVATORIES
MONTGOMERY COLLEGE PLANETARIUM -- 7651 Fenton St., Takoma Park. 301-650-1463. www.montgomerycollege.edu/Departments/planet. The planetarium is open from the last week in August until the Friday before Memorial Day. Harold Williams presents monthly planetarium programs at 7, usually but not always on Saturday. Upcoming topics are "The Rites of Spring, the Vernal Equinox" on March 19, "Black Holes, Gravity to the Max" on April 19 and "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" on May 10. Free.
UNITED STATES NAVAL OBSERVATORY -- Massachusetts Avenue at 34th Street NW. 202-762-1438. www.usno.navy.mil. Tours of the observatory are offered on alternate Mondays at 8:30 and include a presentation on the observatory's history and timekeeping responsibilities as well as a chance to use the facility's 12-inch telescope with a staff astronomer. Tour passes must be reserved 4-6 weeks in advance by using an online request form or calling the number above. Free.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND OBSERVATORY -- Metzerott Road, between Adelphi Road and University Boulevard, College Park.www.astro.umd.edu/openhouse. The Astronomy Department holds a free open house on the 5th and 20th of each month (at 8 during winter and early spring) including a lecture, slide show and telescopic viewing. The observatory offers occasioinal specific classes for amateur astronomers.
GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER VISITOR CENTER -- www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/visitor/events. The Visitor Center Page shows upcoming events and ialso directions inxi the left column. Note that the unlabeled road on the map, just south of NASA is MD-193, Greenbelt Rd.
INTERNET -- The Web is a great source of information and sky maps. (Word to the wise: You're supposed to hold them over your head, not out in front like road maps.) The magazines Astronomy and Sky & Telescope have sites that include how-to advice for beginners (astronomy.com and skypub.com, respectively). And at sites like heavens-above.com you can download star charts customized by date and location -- even if that location is Burkina Faso, Somalia, Kazakhstan or Oman.
NATIONAL CAPITAL ASTRONOMERS -- www.capitalastronomers.org. The club sponsors monthly "Exploring the Sky" sessions, and also has monthly meetings.
NORTHERN VIRGINIA ASTRONOMY CLUB -- www.novac.com. In addition to tailored outreach sessions for groups, the club hosts astronomy events in the spring and fall and sponsors several public observing sessions each year at Crockett Park near Midland, Va., 15 miles south of Manassas. NOVAC also welcomes the public to its monthly meetings.
SKYWATCH -- Columnist Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.'s monthly celestial forecast and calendar of astronomical events appears on The Washington Post Metro section's weather page as close to the first of the month as possible.
SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE -- Steven Muller Building, Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore. www.stsci.edu/resources. The institute, which analyzes data from the Hubble Space Telescope, sponsors free public lectures each month by noted scientists.
The above, from 2012, stems from a 2003 article by Nicole Arthur for the Washington Post. That article is here, but updates are needed.