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Smolen Observatory


Welcome to the Smolen Observatory at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The observatory is used for the education of SUNY students, small research projects, and shows for the public community.

The observatory will be open to the public for Astronomy Night on the first and third Thursday of each month that the university is in session. See our Public Viewing Nights page for more details. 


This month brings us two great opportunities to view the moon: International Observe the Moon Night Sept. 19 and a total lunar eclipse Sept. 27.

Saturday September 19 is International Observe the Moon Night, an annual event to encourage people from around the world to look up at our neighbor, the Moon. We at SUNY New Paltz will be participating by opening Smolen Observatory to the public and pointing our telescopes at the moon from 7-9p.m. There will also be astronomers, including volunteers from the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association, available to answer your questions and help you view the moon.

Sunday September 27 is a total lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes behind the Earth, into the Earth's shadow. Usually the moon is lit up by light from the Sun, but during an eclipse the Earth blocks Sun's light from hitting the moon, making it dark. The eclipse will begin at 9:07pm, when you can start to see the moon move into Earth's shadow. From 10:11p.m.-11:23p.m. the moon will be completely in shadow, and from 11:23p.m.-12:27a.m. the moon will come out of the shadow. We will have the observatory open from 9-11:30p.m. to view the eclipse. If you can't make it to the observatory, just look up with your eyes! (Solar eclipses should not be viewed without special equipment, but lunar eclipses are completely safe, just like looking at the moon.)

Both events are free, open to the public, and all ages are welcome. Come and go any time during the events. Smolen Observatory is located on the south side of the SUNY New Paltz campus in the alumni soccer fields.

If it is too cloudy to see the moon with your eyes then we can't see it with a telescope! IOMN Cloud date: Sept. 20 7-9p.m. Cancellation info at 845-257-1110.