Like one wildly popular Texas tune says, the stars at night are big and bright and the prairie sky is wide and high, deep in the heart of Texas. But in Houston? Not so much. Ironically, here in Space city, the solar system’s superior celestial sights elude us and Texas’s famous stars at night remain hidden behind some serious light pollution.
Fortunately for Houston-area stargazers, an area locale with telescopes ideal for stargazing in an area less than ideal for the practice at large will reopen to the public on Friday, March 19 after nearly two years undergoing renovations.
First opened in the fall of 1989, the George Observatory has been closed since 2019. Once open, the facility, located in the Brazos Bend State Park, will offer expert interactions with astronomers and a laser tour of the night sky.
“We are so excited to welcome visitors back to the newly-remodeled George Observatory. While most are in remote areas, the George Observatory is uniquely placed within Brazos Bend State Park. It’s easy to join us to experience the wonders of space,” said Kavita Self, senior director of HMNS Sugar Land and the George Observatory, in a post on social media.
The observatory’s interior exhibits saw a “major redesign,” which included new displays in the main exhibit hall, classroom and Expedition Center, according to the museum. New stargazing video feeds and a solar camera were also installed. The facility’s three telescope domes received new roofing and were repainted and railing along the observation deck was replaced.
New education and outreach programs will be launched in the spring and summer.
The observatory will reopen at limited capacity to ensure social distancing. Advance ticket purchase is required, as tickets will not be available for purchase onsite, according to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which operates the observatory. Tickers are $10 per person and are available for purchase here. No tickets will be available for purchase on site. A paper or electronic receipt is needed for entry into the observatory.
Face masks are required for anyone 10 years of age or older.
In the event of overcast skies, tours and talks by experts will still be available. Visit Brazos Bend State Park’s website to purchase a separate park entrance reservation.
The George Observatory will open to the public every Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Gorge Observatory is located inside Brazos Bend State Park at 21901 FM 762 Rd. Needville, TX. For more information, visit www.hmns.org or call (281) 242-3055.
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