Sacramento City College Observatory

Astronomy Department Logo

        The Observatory is primarily for the use of astronomy students at SCC.  It is open to the general public on the first Friday of each month from September to May (except January).  Everyone over the age of six (6) is permitted to look through the telescope (smaller children may not reach the eyepiece).  All Open Observatory events are free!!! Weather updates are given on the day of the Open Observatory.  The Observatory phone for events and weather updates is (916) 558-2423.  Please remember that messages are rarely checked on the observatory phone.  If you have any questions about the Open Observatory or the astronomy program at SCC, contact the astronomy coordinator Liam McDaid at (916) 558-2005 or at

Teachers: please click here!


    How well do you know astronomy?  44 common misconceptions about astronomy can be found here.    __________________________________________________________________________________________________

Open Observatory Schedule:

This Page is migrating.  You can find the new up-to-date page at:



About The Place

        The Observatory is located on top of Rodda South.  The southeastern staircase is the only public access to it:

Observatory on Rodda South

(Image courtesy of Forrest Newman)


The main telescope is a 0.41m Schmidt-Cassegrain Reflector.  Images are taken with an SBIG CCD camera and spectroscope.  This is a picture of the telescope:

The Observatory 0.4m telescope

(Image courtesy of Forrest Newman)



          Here are some images taken in the SCC observatory.  All images are taken with an SBIG CCD camera:

The Ring Nebula (M57)

This is an image of the Ring Nebula (M57) in the constellation of Lyra.  The gas in the nebula starts out inside a dying star and later forms a shell around it.  Eventually the shell dissipates, leaving at the center a hot tiny White Dwarf about the size of the Earth.  The Sun will look like this about five (5) billion years from now.


The Hercules Cluster (M13)

This is a picture of the Globular Cluster M13 or the Hercules cluster.  This is a group of stars that lie about 25,000 light years from the Sun in a sparse region of the Milky Way Galaxy called the Halo.  The light from this image started its way to Earth in 23,000 bce.  The stars themselves are ancient, from between 12 to 13 billion years old and are about as old as the Galaxy itself.


The Moon

This is, of course, a picture of our Moon.  Note that the sides of the craters on the left are brighter.  Sunlight is coming from the right.  This area on the Moon was going through sunrise when this picture was taken.


The galaxy M95

This is a picture of the galaxy M95, which is a spiral galaxy that is about 33 million light-years (10 Mpc) from us.  Although this is not a particularly good picture, it was taken from the campus of SCC.



The SCC Observatory can also take spectra of stars.  We use an SBIG CCD camera with a high-resolution spectrograph.  Two examples of absorption spectra are below.  Go to: for more information about spectra.

Vega spectrum

This is a spectra of the star Vega.  The dark lines are caused by Hydrogen atoms in the atmosphere above Vega absorbing light from Vega itself.  Red is on the left and blue is towards the right.     

Deneb spectrum

This is a spectra of the star Deneb.  Note the dark lines piling up toward the right.  Although Vega and Deneb are about the same temperature, the lines on Deneb are thinner because Deneb is a bigger, less dense star.  The spectra of stars can tell us their size!

Thanks for visiting!

Back to SCC Physics Department