Programs

GROUP PROGRAMS

DSC_0300 Weather Watching at Great Blue Hill
Tour the Observatory using a study guide and learn about weather instruments and how observers record and analyze the weather.
Cost: $50, plus $2.00 per student and $4.00 per adult. Maximum group size is 60 students with one chaperon for each 6 to 10 students (no charge for chaperons).
Time: about 75 minutes

Kite-Making Workshops
Design, build and fly your own kite! Travel with a guide through the history of kites and their use at the Observatory. Kite Flying on Blue Hill is possible time and weather permitting.
Cost: $75, plus materials ($1.00 to $75 per kite depending on style)
Time: 30 to 90 minutes

Windy Weather
Make wind catchers and explore the wind with a guided tour of the Observatory

Cost: $75, plus materials ($1.00 to $10 per student depending on activity)
Time: about 75 minutes

kids flying kites on ski slope2

Guided Hikes
Trek through the Blue Hills and learn about your environment.
Cost: $45 per guide, plus $2.00 per student and $4.00 per adult. Maximum group size is 24 students with one chaperon for each 6 to 12 students (no charge for chaperons).
Time: about 45 minutes

Weather Forecasting
How do meteorologists make weather forecasts? Learn from the experts in a forecasting workshop.
Cost: $50, plus $2.00 per student and $4.00 per adult. Maximum group size is 16 students with one chaperon for each 6 to 8 students (no charge for chaperons).
Time: about 90 minutes

Balloon Launch
Track and learn properties of the wind with bio-degradable balloons.
Cost: $40, plus $1 per balloon
Time: 20 to 30 minutes

kids with baloons

Observatory Exploration
See the Observatory in action. Discover the tools used by Blue Hill meteorologists since 1885 on a detailed tour.
Cost: $45, plus $1.50 per student and $3.00 per adult. Maximum group size is 16 students with one chaperon for each 6 to 8 students (no charge for chaperons).
Time: about 45 minutes

The Math of Meteorology
How do you find the average wind speed, temperature range and relative humidity? Use math skills to learn about the weather.
Cost: $50, plus $2.00 per student and $4.00 per adult. Maximum group size is 60 students with one chaperon for each 6 to 10 students (no charge for chaperons).
Time: about 75 minutes

Custom Weather Programs
Interested in another weather topic? The Observatory staff can organize a workshop especially for your group!
Cost: $60 first hour, $15 each subsequent 20 minutes, plus $1.50 to $5.00 per student and $3.00 to $8.00 per adult. Maximum group size is 60 students with one chaperon for each 6 to 8 students (no charge for chaperons).

Most of the programs above can be held at your school or at the Observatory Science Center. Programs can be combined and adapted to your needs. Prices for all programs can be modified based on combination discounts, multiple program discounts, or surcharges for special needs or extended programming.

When is the Observatory Open?

The Observatory is open 365 days a year for Observing and scheduled visits, shopping or programs.
For general tours and the gift shop we are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Monday holidays year round. We are open 10 to 4 Sundays from Presidents’ Day weekend in February through the last Sunday in December.

I have a disability. How can I access the Observatory?

The closest public parking to the Observatory is at the Trailside Museum at the base of Great Blue Hill. The pedestrian route from this parking lot to the observatory along the summit road is approximately one mile long, with an average slope of 15-20%. This road is not open to public vehicles. Special arrangements can be made for specific vehicles to drive to the Observatory. If you have concerns about reaching the Observatory, please contact us to arrange vehicular access to the top.

Blue Hill Observatory is over one hundred and thirty years old, and was built in several stages on top of the hard granite hilltop. The route up to the tower includes slopes up to 18% and rocky natural terrain. Once inside, many of our public rooms are accessible to guests with limited mobility, but there are some areas that can be reached only by steps, including the observation room in the tower. Many of the exhibits within the Observatory can be moved to accessible areas, and accommodations will be provided if you do not wish to or cannot travel to the upper rooms. The hilltop around the Observatory is rocky and uneven in many places, with steep slopes and abrupt changes in level. Accommodations will be provided if you do not wish to or if you are unable to navigate the hilltop.

Our staff is used to welcoming students and participants of all abilities to our programs. To request an accommodation, please contact Program Director Don McCasland at 617-696-0562 or dmccasland@bluehill.org.

What educational programs do you offer?

We have a variety of programs for all ages. You can see most of them on our website on our Programs Page . Detailed descriptions can be custom written for your group.

How do I become a member of the Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center?

Please visit our Membership page for all your options or call 617-696-0562 or e-mail dmccasland@bluehill.org .

Why is there a mirror on the roof?

Long term observations of the clouds can be especially stressful on the neck. The mirror allows you to look down at the clouds instead of up. Much more relaxing! In the early days of the Observatory they used a reflective instrument to measure the speed of the clouds. This instrument is displayed in the History room.

How often is the mercury barometer calibrated?

The mercury barometer contains no electronics or moving parts. Its need for calibration is minimal. We are constantly checking the readings from the mercury barometer against other instrumentation to make certain that the device continues to read accurately.

Why do you have so many kites?

There is a long history of the use of kites in meteorology. In the early days of meteorology, before airplanes and satellites, kites were frequently used to send weather observation equipment aloft. Measurements of temperature, humidity, and altitude were taken. Sometimes wind speed and wind direction were measured as well. At the Observatory kites were sent as much as three miles above the surface to gather data. After completing the observation the kites were reeled back in so that the data could be recovered. The use of kites was eventually supplanted by the use of weather balloons.

How do I book a program or schedule a visit?

Please contact Program Director Don McCasland. You can phone him at 617-696-0562 or e-mail  dmccasland@bluehill.org.

Why do you need so many anemometers?

One of the key aspects of Blue Hill Observatory is that we maintain homogeneous data. By having multiple instruments we are able to ensure data is never lost and that all the instruments are working correctly.  Some of the instruments are official, some are back-up, and others are used for educational purposes. We sometimes receive donations of equipment from vendors who realize that the top of Great Blue Hill is an excellent location to demonstrate the capabilities of their equipment.

Why do you have plants growing on the roof of that other building?

These plants are a hardy type that can subsist in a “green roof” environment. A green roof uses plants to recycle precipitation and to minimize rooftop contribution to global warming. Recycling precipitation reduces contaminated runoff into groundwater supplies. In a rooftop environment without plants the ultraviolet light from the sun is converted to infrared (heat) and serves to warm the atmosphere. Planting the rooftop simulates the natural environment that was in place before the building was constructed. The plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and change the color from black to green thereby reducing energy absorption.