In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have cancelled all events at Ashton Observatory, including Saturday Public Nights and private group events. We are disappointed to suspend activities that focus on our mutual interest in astronomy and the wonder of the cosmos, but everyone’s health and safety naturally comes first. That said, vaccinations and recent data do give us hope that we are making progress in battling the pandemic. We are hopeful that we may be able to resume normal activities later this year. A decision by our Board will rest on guidlines that come from the CDC and local health officials.
Please follow official government guidelines about how to protect public health and safety. We are all in this together, and need to act with consideration for how to take care of each other. Stay well.
Check back here to see any updates that might apply to future DMAS events. In the coming days we hope to find ways to encourage your continued virtual embrace of the marvelous cosmos that has birthed us here in this corner of the universe. For example, we will continue to post new monthly target lists that can help identify what’s in the night sky. If you have your own telescope, that list can be a tool for how you explore the night sky from your own backyard for example.
When normal activities resume, this is what we say about it: When Ashton Observatory is open during our April through October season, that means every Saturday evening will be a free Saturday Public Night, rain or shine (unless there is severe weather, in which case we all should stay home). Free admission. Most Saturdays begin with a classroom program at 8:00 p.m., followed by stargazing afterward. The first Saturday of each month is just stargazing - no classroom program. (click HERE for map)
The Des Moines Astronomical Society, Inc. (DMAS) is here to promote interest in astronomy, and to share opportunities for viewing the night sky. Our Ashton Observatory is home to two large diameter telescopes. From there you will be able to see the Milky Way and study the deep space objects that are so fascinating, guided by the friendly, enthusiastic, and experienced members of DMAS.
FYI: If you are wanting to make arrangements for camping or other activities in the Ashton-Wildwood County Park, you need to contact Jasper County Conservation Department. The Observatory is located in the park, but we have nothing to do with arranging other activities in the park.
Click here to download a monthly target list or star chart, and to learn more about what you can see with your naked eye, or through a telescope this month. Each day the sky advances a bit towards the west. Everything moves 30 degrees per month. It's always a new sky, night after night.
Click here to learn more about scheduling an event for your group. April through October, Ashton Observatory is open to the public every Saturday night, or may be available for private groups on other days. Join us for a night under the stars. Look through our telescopes and see the wonders of the universe! We enjoy sharing our hobby with everyone.