Are you ready to take a trip without leaving Grand Rapids?
The James C. Veen Observatory might be the ticket for a faraway journey.
The observatory, 3308 Kissing Rock Ave. in Lowell Township, is opening its telescopes during public observation nights beginning April 17 and running through November. The Saturday evening programs start 9 p.m. and are scheduled with certain celestial events in mind.
Through the partnership with the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) and the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association (GRAAA), the public will be able to visit the observatory and view the night skies using portable telescopes that will be spread out around the property.
Visitors also can participate in audio-visual presentations introducing the facility and orientations to prominent constellations currently visible.
Face masks will be required when in close proximity to others and when inside the facility, which has three large permanently mounted telescopes. On public viewing nights those will be augmented with instruments owned and supplied by GRAAA members. All high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized throughout the evening.
Public observing nights will be canceled in the event of cloud cover. Status updates are posted at GRAAA.org or by calling (616) 897-7065 to find out no later than 6:30 p.m. on the date of each scheduled event.
Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for ages 3-17, and free to children under the age of 5. GRPM members and GRAAA members are free.