Photo by Michael James

In past months, Public Nights at the Observatory, an observatory event on the Howey rooftop, has been canceled two consecutive times. While the reasons for delay are not dramatic, unsuitable weather has been the most notable cause.

“There are no major observatories in the Southeast because the weather is not very clear or very predictable,” said Professor James Sowell, Coordinator for Public Nights.

According to Sowell, late January and February could be eighty percent unclear one year and completely clear the next.

Potential visitors for the event have found issues with these delays as they have showed up to closed doors, but have sent no negative feedback directly to observatory representatives.

Sowell explained that on nights they cancel but the weather clears, that he struggles to decide if he should tell people to come anyway. However Sowell noted that in small group settings, the word does not spread well.

“I’d rather have people look up in the sky and realize themselves that its too cloudy, but shocking enough, a lot of people still don’t even realize that there is an observatory,” Sowell said.

On the other hand, Public Nights has been enjoyed by many who have visited the Howey rooftop, and the program has received multiple positive comments when the event was open last semester.

“All three of us really enjoyed our time at the observatory, and as evidence, my son gave an enthusiastic reporting of what he saw when my husband asked him about it this morning,” said one visitor of the Atlanta community who visited with her children in a letter sent directly to Professor Sowell.

As the semester wraps up its final two months, Howey observatory will showcase two more Public Night events on March 14 and April 18.

“I will open up for campus groups that contact me, and I will make arrangements for a group night at the observatory,” Sowell said.
Students are recommended to check the weather before attending any scheduled observatory days.