Comet C/2022 E3
We have received many inquiries from the public about viewing comet C/2022 E3 (which has received the nickname "the Green Comet" in some media coverage). It is currently visible through telescopes and binoculars, though its rise and set time is rapidly changing as it zips past the Earth.
The comet's closest approach to Earth will occur at 9:55 a.m. PST on February 1. Therefore, we are having a special viewing event at the Foothill Observatory on Tuesday, January 31st, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The comet will also be visible during the Friday night viewings at Foothill Observatory from January 27 through February 24.
These events are free and open to the public, and we ask that people entering the observatory wear masks (with masks available in case you forget yours).
About the Astronomy Program
Discover the Universe at Foothill College
The Astronomy Department at Foothill College offers lecture and laboratory classes with astronomy professor Dr. Geoff Mathews. Courses in solar system and stellar astronomy provide you with a non-technical introduction to the worlds with which we share our solar system, the life and death of stars, the formation of galaxies, and the evolution of the universe.
Dr. Mathews leads the Foothill AstroSims project, which aims to sustain the existing pool of astro-education simulations as well as developing new simulations covering previously unaddressed topics. Our long-time faculty member Andrew Fraknoi retired in June 2017.
Degree & Program Types
We do not offer a degree or certificate program in Astronomy. However, the astronomy courses meet general education requirements for other degrees offered.
The Foothill College Observatory
Located on the main campus near the Krause Center for Innovation, the observatory provides students and community members with the opportunity for first-hand exploration of the wonders of the universe.
The observatory is open each Friday night from 9 to 11 p.m., starting January 20, 2023. It is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
Required COVID-19 precautions for visitors are:
1) full vaccination
2) face mask covering nose and mouth
3) outdoor queueing, to avoid crowding within the observatory
Free parking winter 2023
The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series
Founded in 1999, the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series lectures are presented on six Wednesday evenings during each school year at Foothill College. Speakers over the years have included Nobel-prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences and many other well-known scientists explaining astronomical developments in everyday language.
The series, moderated by Foothill College Astronomy instructor emeritus Andrew Fraknoi, is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the SETI Institute, the University of California Observatories, and Foothill College. Topics range from the exploration of the planets to the speeding up of the expanding universe; from planets around other stars to black holes at the centers of distant galaxies.
Lectures are free to the general public, and video versions of the lectures (starting February 2013) are available on the lecture series YouTube Channel. Free audio files (podcasts) of the lectures are available as well through Buzzsprout.
The Peninsula Astronomical Society
The Peninsula Astronomical Society operates the Foothill College Observatory, and conducts other events throughout the south Bay Area.
Astronomy on the Web
For further explorations of the universe, check out these selected astronomy sites on the Web.
Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series
On February 8, at 7pm, in person at Foothill College Smithwick Theater, Dr. Andrew Siemion, Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, will give a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture titled "Our Boldest Effort to Answer our Oldest Question: The Breakthrough Listen Search for Intelligent Life Beyond Earth"
This event will be live at Smithwick Theater.
We ask that attendees be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 and wear a mask while indoors at the event. Extra masks will be provided.
Foothill College Observatory
Open each Friday from 9 pm to 11 pm, and each Saturday from 10 am to noon
COVID-19 precautions required:
1) full vaccination
2) face mask
3) outdoor queuing
We're Here to Help!
David Marasco, Dept. Chair
Office Room 4405