Stargazing nights

At least once a quarter, we set up our telescopes for public viewing on campus (we have used Lake Lagunita, the Student Observatory, and the Mausoleum in the past).  On stargazing nights, both SAS members and visitors learn about the night sky and enjoy views of stars, star clusters, nebulae, planets and the Moon through the society’s telescopes.  We usually convene shortly after sunset and continue until ~11pm or later.  Check the calendar for dates, times, and locations.

Given the global pandemic, however, we’re now focusing on virtual stargazing nights, a digitalized version of our stargazing nights through Zoom. Be sure to sign up to our mailing lists to get more information and (Zoom) links on these events!


In addition to regular public viewing, the Society regularly volunteers for outreach events hosted by other organizations. Members have regularly attended Escondido Elementary School’s “Family Science Night” with telescopes for observation and hands-on activities in the past, and have set up a solar observation station at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC)’s 11th Anniversary Open House as well as at a Second Sunday at Stanford’s Anderson Collection. More recently, the Society has started to travel to Bay Area elementary schools to promote astronomy to broader audiences with the help of Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service. Now, we are currently focusing on virtual outreach opportunities, which remain similar in format to our in-person volunteering. We are always looking for new ways to reach the broader community through public outreach, so please feel free to reach out if you’re interested in having us attend your event!

Solar observation

We hold solar observation sessions as a supplement to our usual night time observing activities. We always emphasize safety in observing the Sun and as such we use a wide variety of filters fitted to telescopes, projection facilities, dedicated H-alpha solar telescopes and spectrographs to study the sun in its richness. Our solar observation sessions are always a great chance to see sunspots, faculae, granulation, prominences and flares and other important structures on our nearest star first hand. We also organize special observing sessions for solar eclipses and transits whenever such events are visible in the region.

Workshops and conferences

Our members and friends are always glad to share their knowledge with the Stanford community. We have organized talks on topics in astrophysics research in collaboration with the Physics Department and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) in the past, and have more recently begun to co-host speakers with other student organizations during the academic year. In addition, we enjoy close connections to the Stanford University Department of Physics, and inform our members when relevant Department Colloqiua, KIPAC Tea Talks, Astrophysics & Cosmology Colloquia, and public lectures are held.

Trips to dark sky sites

Once every quarter we plan for an outing to a darker site which has less light pollution than our regular stargazing location at Lake Lagunita. Most times, we take trips lasting from sundown to around midnight to the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, conveniently located around thirty minutes from campus, which features exceptional skies for the Bay Area and a great environment for first-time observers. In the past, we have organized stargazing and astrophotography trips to Henry Coe State Park, impromptu outings to San Antonio reservoir for meteor showers, and we explored more dark sites nearby and far beyond the Sierras to observe deep-sky objects. Most of these trips are daily roundtrips and do not require backpacking experience.