Hard Labor Creek Observatory – A Facility of Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Out of an abundance of caution in light of recent cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Atlanta Metro Area,
ALL OPEN HOUSES ARE SUSPENDED
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Located in the middle of Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge, Georgia (~50 miles east of downtown Atlanta), the observatory is a resource for professional and amateur astronomers. However, an additional service of HLCO has been to the public – bringing the wonders of the Universe to Georgia residents.
Professional astronomers from Georgia State University take advantage of the dark skies, away from the light pollution of Atlanta, Conyers, and Covington, to observe objects as near as the Moon and as far away as the edge of our visible Universe.
- The Miller Telescope: Plane Wave 24″ Corrected Dall-Kirkham Astrograph Telescope
- The McAlister Telescope: RC Optics 20″ Ritchey-Chrétien Telescope
- The Wingert Building: Celestron 11″ Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
Update as of March 06, 2020
Message from the department chair:
Out of an abundance of caution in light of recent cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Atlanta Metro Area, the Department of Physics & Astronomy will be suspending “public open house” activities at the Hard Labor Creek Observatory (HLCO) until further notice.
We find that the “public open house” stargazing activities are particularly at risk for the propagation of viruses because: (1) the telescopes domes and rooms at HLCO are relatively enclosed spaces, and visitors inevitably get within close distance of each other and the staff, (2) access to the domes requires one to go up a steep flight of stairs using handrails, (3) stargazing with our arrays of small telescopes requires the visitors and staff to take turns touching the instruments with their hands and/or faces; the staff in particular needs to constantly re-adjust the pointing and calibration of each telescopes throughout the night, which is very hands-on.
Our “public open house” often attract significant crowds (50+ people). To keep everyone absolutely safe would require the staff to carefully wipe and disinfect all handrails and instruments after each visitor’s use, which we find to be impractical. Without these precautions, our staff of volunteers would be particularly at risk of being exposed to a virus. Therefore, out of concern for their safety, we prefer to suspend all “public open house” activities until further notice.