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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.

Observer Visits

Coming soon!

05/10/2016: Virtual Earth-space telescope sheds new light on Milky Way

GBT-cloudyAstronomers have created a virtual Earth-space radio telescope more than 100,000 miles across – a super-high resolution that reveals new details of a quasar and our Milky Way. The researchers were surprised when their Earth-space system revealed a temperature hotter then 10 trillion degrees. “Only this space-Earth system could reveal this temperature, and now we have to figure out how that environment can reach such temperatures,” said RadioAstron scientist Yuri Kovalev. “This result is a significant challenge to our current understanding of quasar jets,” he added.

Using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes, the team achieved the highest resolution of any astronomical observation ever made. The feat produced a pair of surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies. The scientists combined the Russian Radio- Astron satellite with the ground-based telescopes to produce a virtual radio telescope. They pointed this system at a quasar called 3C 273, more than two billion light-years from Earth. Quasars like 3C 273 propel huge jets of material outward at speeds nearly that of light. These powerful jets emit radio waves.

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Group Reservations

We welcome your visit to the Green Bank Observatory!

For Field Trip Requests, Group Visits and Science Center event reservations, please contact the Green Bank Science Center at 304-456-2150, or gro.y1702084030rotav1702084030resbo1702084030bg@sn1702084030oitav1702084030reser1702084030. You can find out more about our tours and special events by visiting our Science Center page.

Science Center Hours

Science Center Hours

Monday9:30 AM — 5:30 PM
Tuesday - WednesdayClosed
Thursday - Sunday9:30 AM — 5:30 PM

Starlight Café Hours

Monday10:30 AM — 5:30 PM
Tuesday - WednesdayClosed
Thursday - Sunday10:30 AM — 5:30 PM

See dates, times, and tickets available.

The Starlight Café is open during normal Science Center Hours (see table above) for take out options (last hot food order taken 30 minutes prior to closing). There are onsite covered eating areas available to the public. Call (304) 456-2361 for more information and to order.

How to make Group Reservations

The following information is for Group Reservations only. For regular public tours, please see our online schedule. If you already know when you want to visit and how many will be in your group, please follow the links for the Green Bank Observatory Reservation System (GBORS) below.

GBORS is designed for special day trips and overnight visitors to the Green Bank Observatory, as well as for the Observatory employees who organize and provide services for these visitors. It is also designed for Observatory staff to view events occurring on site, and to reserve specific locations for meetings or other purposes.

For the Radio Astronomer For a Day program, Workshops, Scientific Meetings, Facility Use, Lodging or Meal Planning, please contact our main offices at 304-456-2011, or gro.y1702084030rotav1702084030resbo1702084030bg@sn1702084030oitav1702084030reser1702084030.

Please use the Green Bank Observatory Reservation System (GBORS) site to initiate a group reservation request!

If you are bringing a large group, if you require special meals or educational services, or if you will be staying overnight with us, then using GBORS is for you. These visitors typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Student groups and/or educators (from elementary through college)
  • Workshop attendees
  • Visiting observers or invited speakers
  • Those who are visiting for Observatory-related business
  • News or film crews

About the Green Bank Observatory

Home » About

Mission Statement

Green Bank Observatory enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering telescope, facility and advanced instrumentation access to the astronomy community as well as to other basic and applied research communities. With radio astronomy as its foundation, the Green Bank Observatory is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.

Our Facility

The first trailblazers of American radio astronomy called Green Bank Observatory home over 60 years ago. Today, their legacy is alive and well. Nestled in the mountain ranges and farmland of West Virginia, within the National Quiet Zone, radio astronomers are listening to the remote whispers of the universe, in order to discover answers to our most astounding astronomical questions.

Download a PDF of our 2023 Green Bank Observatory booklet.

Specifically, the Green Bank Observatory:

  • provides state-of-the-art telescopes, instrumentation and expertise
  • trains the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technicians;
  • promotes science, technology and engineering to foster a more scientifically literate society;
  • provides the tools and facilities to advance science and technology nationally and internationally.

Our Vision: we are here …

To Discover.

We are here to discover… black holes, stellar birth, pulsars, hubble constant, big bang energy, universe expansion, and the origins of life.

To See the Unseen.

We are here to harness the power of radio waves to explore astronomy.

To Foster Innovation and Curiosity.

We are here to escape from the noise and learn, share, teach.
We are on the pursuit of knowledge.

… and talk about Einsteins General Theory of Relativity, too.

To Educate.

We are here to encourage your sense of wonder for the unknown beyond our planet.