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Field Trips

Learn Science & Engineering at the Green Bank Observatory

The Green Bank Science Center is open year-round for your educational field trips! Our 25,000 square foot facility contains the Catching the Wave Exhibit Hall, 150-seat auditorium, StarLab Classroom, gift shop, and even a café.

Programs for students and educational groups are FREE! Visit our Science Center Brochure page to see the current available programming.

Our Science Center is different from a typical science museum. We are on location as astronomers from around the world use the gigantic Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope to uncover new knowledge about the universe. Discoveries happen here! And we want your students to share in this experience of discovery.

We are hands-on minds-on at the Science Center!

  • School groups can experience several unique interactive activities that meet national and state science and engineering standards.
  • Boy and Girl Scouts can earn astronomy themed badges!
  • Our signature “Radio Astronomer for a Day” program engages youth real radio astronomy as they investigate cosmic objects with the 40 foot diameter radio telescope!

Before arranging your field trip take some time to:

College student group at the 40 Foot Telescope
College student group at the 40 Foot Telescope

Our Science Center staff are your contact for day visits. No matter how small or large your group, we’ll help you organize your activities and tours. If you are planning a day-trip, you may elect to eat at our Starlight Café. If your group is large or you have time constraints you should pre-order. Your best options are pizzas, or box lunches. Just contact us at the number or email above for more information!

Observatory Bunkhouse
Observatory Bunkhouse

Staying overnight? Ask for one of our Educational Outreach staff if you are planning an overnight visit. They’ll help you organize your activities and find a date that suits you.  Once you have a date, reserve our affordable bunkhouse!  Just for school and youth groups  the bunkhouse can accommodate up to 60 students (30 girls and 30 boys). There are attached but separate quarters for chaperones. Students bring their own linens or sleeping bags. The cost is $10.00/student/night (with a minimum of $200.00/night). Our on site cafeteria will provide meals. Meals can be arranged at the Observatory Cafeteria. Meals for student groups include: breakfast ($6.00), lunch ($8.00) and supper ($9.00). Please bring your tax exempt documentation if you are a school or non-profit group.

PLEASE NOTE: Cameras are welcome, but DIGITAL cameras (as well as other electronic devices) are not allowed in areas near the telescopes. Do our RFI activity to learn why! More info is here.

Educational Day Trips

All educational activities are free, but there are some costs if you’d like to purchase meals while onsite.

If you have any questions not answered here, feel free to email us at gro.y1679395823rotav1679395823resbo1679395823bg@sn1679395823oitav1679395823reser1679395823.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Green Bank Observatory Science Center is open to all public! However, we do offer special rates and activities for educational groups, which can include:

  • Sanctioned school groups with adult chaperones
  • Sanctioned university or college groups
  • Church youth groups with adult chaperones
  • Homeschool associations, clubs, or families with adult chaperones or parents
  • Scout, 4-H, Civil Air Patrol, and other after-school clubs or groups
  • Camp groups from other organizations or museums

Tours are free for all students, faculty, and staff, and up to one parent/chaperone for every four students. For example, if you bring 20 students for a tour, we will include five parent/chaperone tickets, and an unlimited number of faculty/staff tickets. If you want to bring a sixth parent or chaperone on the tour with this group, you must purchase a ticket for them upon arrival.

For educational groups, our staff can offer the activities found on Page 3 of our Field Trip Guide. When you’ve chosen what activities you’d like, make sure to put them in the description of your GBORS request.

You can take a field trip the Green Bank Observatory any time of the year! We suggest staying at least two hours in order to visit the exhibit hall, gift shop, and take a tour. If you’d like to do other activities, or eat onsite, please allow for more time.

The Starlight Café can provide meals for day trips. Group rates are available (2023 group rate menu coming soon).

If you would like the Starlight Café to provide meals, please select “Meal Services” when creating your GBORS request.

Our educators get busy during field trip season, so get your requests in as early as possible!

Use the Green Bank Observatory Reservation System (GBORS) to request a reservation. Make sure to select “Science Center & Educational Activities” when creating your request.

Science Newsletter #AAS241 Edition

Photo credit Jay Young.

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This October, students attending the triennial PhysCon conference embarked on an adventurous detour to the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT). 

Nearly 900 undergraduate astronomy and physics majors from across North America came together in Washington, D.C. for PhysCon, hosted by the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and its associated honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. 


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