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Turner Park’s Roll-top Observatory Wins State Honors

Turner Park's Roll-top Observatory Wins State Honors

The roll-top observatory at Observatory Park at The Turner Farm has been honored by the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society (VRPS) as the Best New Facility (Bricks and Mortar) in a population area greater than 100,000. Officials from the Fairfax County Park Authority accepted the award from VRPS at the organization’s annual meeting in Hampton Roads, Virginia last week.

Opened in 2016, the observatory helps to expand the concept of what a park can offer, from the trees and land below to the skies above. It offers the public a chance to see the night sky through permanently mounted telescopes in one of Fairfax County’s darkest spots. Visitors have the unique opportunity to combine indoor classroom instruction on such topics as the moon, constellations and meteors with an outdoor viewing experience -- all in one building.

The roll-top building includes an Orientation Room that serves as an instructional space for educational programs and an Observation Room that includes three mounted telescopes, with room for a fourth telescope as private funding becomes available. The observatory features a retractable roof that rolls over the top of the fixed roof that covers the Orientation Room; it is the only active observatory in 100 miles.

With its low-profile design, the roll-top observatory also helps to preserve the natural park setting at Turner Farm, which serves double-duty as an equestrian park. The landscape design incorporates low maintenance plant material and meadow grasses indigenous to Virginia to create a natural, informal aesthetic.

The roll-top was funded through Park Bonds and generous donations from the community including Jean and Ric Edelman and the Analemma Society.

VRPS is a private, non-profit professional organization, founded in 1953. Its purpose is to unite all professionals, students, and interested lay persons engaged in the field of recreation, parks and other leisure services in Virginia. Each year, VRPS honors individuals, departments and organizations throughout the state that have demonstrated excellence in any of several areas during the previous year. Nominees are judged by a jury of peers.

For more information, please contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662 or via Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.  

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