Our next observing night will be February 6th

“Experience the Universe at Charlie Elliott”

Directions to Charlie Elliott

Charlie Elliott Astronomy on February 6, 2021:

A Virtual Meeting with a REAL Comet Guy!

Same-Day Observing at CEWC

(January 22, 2021) With the great success (nearly 900 viewers!) we had with our online January program with Atlanta’s Fernbank Science Center and the Charlie Elliott Astronomy Club working together, we ask all to please join us once more for the second in a series of joint online presentations, this time when we feature noted comet discoverer Don Machholz on Saturday, February 6.

The program begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, with a short planetarium presentation by Fernbank’s planetary geologist Scott Harris. Following that will be a few remarks by Mike Shaw, director of the Charlie Elliott Astronomy Club about our club and its parent organization, the Atlanta Astronomy Club. Afterwards, Don will present his personal account of visual comet-hunting over the years.

All of the presentations will be streamed live via the Fernbank Science Center’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fernbankcenter

In addition, and like last time, club members will receive a special Zoom link that will enable them to ask questions of Don live right after his presentation. (Another reason to consider joining!)

Don is a noted American amateur astronomer who is rated number one in the world for visual comet discoveries, which will be the topic of his presentations — “Visual Comet Hunting”. This is important because most new comet discoveries are carried out with automated equipment, though some comets are still found by actual people like Don Machholz.

Machholz photo. Credited with the discovery of 12 comets that include the periodic comets 96P/Machholz, 141P/Machholz, the non-periodic C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) which were visible with binoculars in the northern sky in 2004 and 2005, C/2010 F4 (Machholz), and most recently C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto). In 1985, Comet Machholz 1985-e was discovered using a homemade cardboard telescope with a wide aperture, 10″ across, that gave it a broader field of view than most commercial telescopes. Don utilizes a variety of methods in his comet discoveries; for instance, in 1986 he used 29×130 binoculars to discover 96P/Machholz.


Besides his comet-hunting activities, Don is also one of the inventors of the “Messier Marathon,” which is a race to observe all the Messier objects in a single night, plus he does a weekly 20-minute podcast “Looking Up With Don” which is available at all the usual places. Go to https://donmachholz.com/podcast/ for a list of them to see what you’ve missed so far.

Observing on the Jon Wood Astronomy Field

With the Don Machholz presentation wrapping up by 2:30 p.m., we will have — weather permitting –  another informal observing event that same evening, February 6, at the Jon Wood Astronomy Field (which is on the right, shortly after turning onto Elliott Trail from Marben Farm Rd). As always, this event is free.

According to the Sky Safari astronomy app, sunset at our location near Mansfield, Georgia, will be at 6:11 p.m., so those with scopes and related equipment to set up should plan on an earlier arrival. In consideration of any astro-imagers, astronomical dusk ends at 7:35 p.m.

NOTE: It is your own responsibility to monitor the weather forecast for your own comfort and safety. Be advised to dress warmly and even have extra clothing on hand should it also be needed. There are no inside bathroom facilities, running water, electricity or warm-up buildings at this location. There is, however, a “porta-potty” at the edge of the observing field that is regularly serviced.

Also, this will be an INFORMAL gathering  and will NOT include any club business or activities. Just observing.

Note that the Elliott Trail automatic road gate closes for incoming traffic at 5 p.m. Afterwards, a four-digit combination must be entered on a keypad near the gate for it to open. That combination is available only to dues-paying Club members. Therefore, non-Club members planning to join us on the observing field should enter the park before 5 p.m. Club members who may arrive after 5 p.m. and do not have the gate combination should contact a club officer at least 24 hours prior to their visit to obtain the gate combination.

The gate opens automatically for exiting traffic as you approach it to leave, no matter what time it is.

Covid Requirements

IMPORTANT! Face masks are required at ALL CE astronomy in-person events and we remind all attendees that the CDC’s 6-foot social distancing requirement remains in effect — even on the Jon Wood Astronomy Field. Note also that NO refreshments are served, so bring your own.

Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction Follow-Up

. With over 26 cars on the Jon Wood Astronomy Field at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on Monday evening, December 21, it seems a splendid time was had by all. The skies were clear (though the atmospheric seeing wasn’t steady enough for some folks) and the temps were okay, as well. Lots of comments and images all over the wordwide web, so enjoy your own searching and thanks to all who came out to the event and made it the success that it was.

More About the Charlie Elliott Astronomy Club

Check out the Charlie Elliott Astronomy Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ceastronomy . There you’ll find a welcoming group of people sharing ideas and tips as well as organizing ad-hoc observing and imaging sessions on the Jon Wood Astronomy Field.

For those not familiar with the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, go to https://georgiawildlife.com/charlie-elliott-wildlife-center

The CEWC phone is 770-784-3059, Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m.


If you have an idea for a 15 to 20-minute pre-meeting presentation about something you’ve learned or a project you’re working on, contact Steve Siedentop or Ken Poshedly.

Downloads from the Last Meeting


Our Monthly Meetings and Public Observing Nights

The status of in-person meetings will be announced monthly as the COVID situation changes. Visit the “Our Calendar” tab at the top of the page for our 2020-2021 meeting, observing, and outreach schedule. Start times vary throught the year so please check back for details.

View our Full Calendar of all meetings & outreach events

It’s easy to become a member of Charlie Elliott Astronomy!

Charlie Elliott Astronomy Membership Form
Pay dues with PayPal

All Charlie Elliott Astronomy events are free and open to the public and you don’t have to be a member to attend our meetings or join us on Jon Wood Astronomy Field.  However, we would encourage you to consider a yearly paid membership for less than the cost of a couple of pizzas.  Your membership dues allow us to continue our science outreach programs in area schools and youth organizations, merit badge programs with area Scout Troops, and allow us to maintain the facilities on Jon Wood Astronomy Field.  To become a member, you can fill out our Membership Form or contact an officer.  March is membership renewal month. If you are renewing your membership, no form is necessary.

The Charlie Elliott Chapter is a member of the Night Sky Network
Click on the banner below to request an outreach event.

Want to help with our Outreach?

Register here to become a Charlie Elliott Astronomy outreach member

Want to know a little more about us?

Meet the Charlie Elliott Chapter Officers for 2019-2020

Charlie Elliott Astronomy, serving the Atlanta area and East Middle Georgia, is a chapter of the Atlanta Astronomy Club, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to promoting the public knowledge of and interest in astronomy.

Donations support our outreach programs, equipment expense, and educational materials.