Stargazing at Balboa Park
San Diego Astronomy Association

astronomy in San Diego
San Diego Astronomy Association offers free stargazing sessions at Balboa Park.

Are you interested in San Diego astronomy but don't want to spend hundreds of dollars for a good telescope? Here's an easy answer: The San Diego Astronomy Association offers free telescope viewing and stargazing sessions in Balboa park every first Wednesday of the month.

Weather permitting, The SDAA sets up 5 to 10 telescopes so that you can gaze at the stars. Each telescope will be manned by a knowledgeable SDAA member who can tell you about the sky at night. On clear nights, the telescopes will be directed at various celestial bodies that are visible in the evening sky: planets, stars, binary stars, galaxies, comets, and whatever happens to be visible in the night sky.

astronomy in San Diego

On overcast evenings, only the moon might be visible. Even so, it is exciting to see, with your own eyes, the craters and maria (Latin for "seas") on the surface of the moon. With a telescope, the moon will appear very bright - almost blinding. It is best to point the telescope to an area where the moon is not so bright. The boundary between the light and dark part of the moon is called the Terminator and that is the best place to study the moon. The moon is constantly moving (the Earth is constantly spinning) so it is necessary to reposition the telescope every few minutes. The SDAA member will help position the telescope for you.

astronomy in San Diego

Posters and other astronomical information may be on displays so that you can walk around, read, and chit chat with the SDAA members. Maybe you want to join their organization.

The San Diego Astronomy Association

The San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) was established in 1963. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of its members and the general public in the areas of space and astronomy. The SDAA offers many activities free of charge:

  • Public Stargazing at Balboa Park near the Reuben Fleet Center; first Wednesday of every month; starts at 8 pm
  • Educational Lecture in the Visitor Center at the Mission Trails Regional Park; on the third Wednesday of each month; starts at 7 pm.
  • Sky Observation session at Tierra del Sol (East County); use of the 22" reflector and 8" refractor telescopes; starts at sundown.
  • Camp with the Stars: one weekend of each month (except December); slide show presentation and telescope viewing at various campgrounds in SD; telescope viewing is free but there is a cost for the campground.
  • Star Parties in school campuses and youth camps
  • Amateur Telescope Making: make your own telescope or upgrade your existing telescope; 9am - noon nearly every Saturday; nominal $2 fee plus other supplies provided at or below cost.

The SDAA has about 600 members: these includes scientists, seasoned astronomers as well as beginners and everyday people who have a casual interest in the stars above. Membership into the SDAA is $30 plus $5 per family member. Photo from SDAA web site.

Want to see a Planetarium show?

In combination with the free star gazing events organized by the SDAA, the Reuben Fleet Center also hosts a "The Sky Tonight" planetarium show. Read about this San Diego astronomy show here.