This web page documents FSU Observing Events, 2003 – 2017


These events have been lead by Observatory Director, John Mattox.

Great American Eclipse observations – scroll down to the middle of the page.



The FSU Astronomy Program invites the public to join us for Astronomy Open House events! These events normally feature one (or more) programs in the  FSU Planetarium, and public observing in the  FSU Observatory.

Astronomical observation at the FSU Observatory is contingent upon weather – requiring that the sky be nearly clear.

For more information about Observatory Open House events, contact Professor John Mattox;
E-mail address: JMattox@uncfsu.nospam (change .nospam to .edu before sending);
Office phone: (910) 672-1652.


Previous Events of Note

Partial Solar Eclipse on 10/23/14

Professor Mattox opened the Observatory to the public for this at 5:45 pm. With the forecast available at 12:00 pm on 10/23/14, we can be assured of a very clear sky!

The Moon will begin to cover the Sun at 6:02 pm. Maximum eclipse will occur at 6:29 pm as the Sun sets, with 20% of the solar disk covered here in Fayetteville.

Total Lunar Eclipse on 10/8/14

This was posted prior to the eclipse: Professor Mattox will open the Observatory to the public for this at 6:00 am if it is very clear. At 10:40 pm on 10/7, there is a decent chance that the sky will be clear enough to open the observatory. A final decision will be posted by 5:20 am on 10/8. The Moon begins to move into the Penumbra of the Earth’s shadow at 4:15 am. The dimming will become very noticeable when it begins to enter the Umbra of the Earth’s shadow at 5:15 am. At 6:25 am, it will first be entirely within the Umbra. At 6:55, it will be at maximum eclipse. At 7:16, the Sun will rise. This is a potentially a rare selenelion eclipse, when the eclipse of the moon and the Sunrise are visible at the same time.

It turned out that at 5:20, the sky was very clear! But I then had intermittency in internet access at home, and was unable to update this page (I was then using Time Warner Roadrunner).

I arrived at the Observatory at 6:01. Still very clear, but thin clouds were apparent at the horizon. The eclipsed Moon was apparent from our 5th floor location well into dusk. It was visible  until 6:55 pm when it reached an altitude of 4 degrees.

The upper limb of the rising Sun was first apparent at 7:18. As the Sunrise prediction for out location was 7:16, a horizon due to tree obstruction of 1 degree altitude is indicated. And this is the case for our entire horizon (except in the direction of a few campus buildings). Thus, with atmospheric refraction causing both the Sun and Moon at  the horizon to appear only 35 arcminutes higher than they actually are, our site (as good as it is for horizon), is not sufficient to see the selenelion eclipse phenomenon, even if there are no clouds.

Mercury viewing

Beginning on 10/10/12 at 7:00 pm, the FSU Observatory was to be open (if it is clear) for public observation of Mercury – Mercury was expected to be visible from 7:15 to 7:30. The Observatory would have remained open until 8:30 to view additional objects. But, due to clouds, it was not possible to see Mercury. The Planetarium was open notwithstanding from 7:00 until 8:00 to present information about Mercury.

FSU Observes the Great American Eclipse

A public viewing will occur from 2:15 – 3:15 pm, on 8/21/17 in the large open space adjacent to the Planetarium (North of the Lyons Science Building).  Maximum partial eclipse (95%) will occur at 2:45. Eclipse glasses will be distributed at this event. Here is the prediction from NASA for this site:

Lat.: 35.0743° N
Long.: 78.8925° W
Partial Solar Eclipse
Magnitude: 0.958
Obscuration: 95.38%
Event Date Time (UT) Alt Azi
Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 2017/08/21 17:16:53.8 66.8° 178.9°
Maximum eclipse : 2017/08/21 18:45:29.0 59.6° 225.6°
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 2017/08/21 20:07:07.9 45.4° 249.2°

Eclipse glasses will be provided to the first 2,000 attendees (more if everyone shares).  In addition, three solar safe telescopes will be used to observe the Sun during the eclipse. For more information about this event, contact the FSU Planetarium Manager, Joe Kabbes.

The nearest good total eclipse observation site is the Santee Indian Mound. It is close to Lake Marion in SC: just west of I-95 at the north end of the lake. There was public access to the top of the mound when Professor Mattox was last there 5 years ago. It is nearly at the center of the band of totality. Traffic may be a problem (even on I-95). With normal traffic, it is about 2 ½ hours each way for auto travel from Fayetteville. Here is the prediction from NASA for this site:

Lat.: 33.5331° N
Long.: 80.4287° W
Total Solar Eclipse
Duration of Totality: 2m35.1s
Magnitude: 1.015
Obscuration: 100.00%
Event Date Time (UT) Alt Azi
Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 2017/08/21 17:15:00.0 68.2° 173.6°
Start of total eclipse (C2) : 2017/08/21 18:43:43.5 61.8° 224.4°
Maximum eclipse : 2017/08/21 18:45:01.2 61.6° 224.9°
End of total eclipse (C3) : 2017/08/21 18:46:18.6 61.4° 225.5°
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 2017/08/21 20:08:00.3 46.9° 249.6°


Here is Professor Mattox’s curricula page (with Student Assignments) for the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

Professor Mattox plans to observe from at the Mountain Retreat and Learning Center for totality. Here is the prediction from NASA for this site:

Lat.: 35.03° N
Long.: 83.2571° W
Total Solar Eclipse
Duration of Totality: 2m35.9s
Magnitude: 1.013
Obscuration: 100.00%
Event Date Time (UT) Alt Azi
Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 2017/08/21 17:07:09.1 65.9° 162.4°
Start of total eclipse (C2) : 2017/08/21 18:35:51.4 63.1° 214.0°
Maximum eclipse : 2017/08/21 18:37:09.5 63.0° 214.6°
End of total eclipse (C3) : 2017/08/21 18:38:27.3 62.8° 215.2°
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 2017/08/21 20:01:23.0 49.8° 243.9°

Finding the Great American Eclipse in North Carolina

Approaching Eclipse Totality at 2:35 pm on 8/21 – atop a rimrock on Little Scaly Mountain in NC (near the Georgia border). Unfortunately we had clouds between us and the Moon/Sun from before C1 until after C3. Still an awesome experience!