Public Viewing Nights
Astronomy Nights are held on the first and third Thursday of each month that the university is in session. The free program begins with an indoor planetarium show at the John R. Kirk Planetarium. After the planetarium show Smolen Observatory will be open for telescope viewing only if the sky is clear. Call the observatory at 845-257-1110 to hear a message indicating if the public viewing has been canceled due to cloudy weather. Visitors can participate in either the planetarium show, observatory telescope viewing, or both.
Astronomy Night telescope viewing begins shortly after sunset and therefore the start time changes according to the seasons. The current Astronomy Night schedule is as follows.
|Season||Dates||2013-2014 Dates||Planetarium show begins*||Observatory open (if sky is clear)
|Fall||September – Daylight Savings Time ends (mid-November)||Sept. 5
|7:30 p.m.||8:30-9:30 p.m.|
|Winter||Daylight Savings Time ends (mid-November) – Daylight Savings Time begins (mid-March)
There will be no shows in January due to the college’s holiday break
|6:30 p.m.||7:30-8:30 p.m.|
Daylight Savings Time begins (mid-March) – May
There will be no show on March 20 due to the college's Spring Break
|7:30 p.m.||8:30-9:30 p.m.|
|Summer||May – August
There will be no show on July 3 due to the holiday, but a make-up Astro Night will take place on July 31 instead
|8:30 p.m.||9:30-10:30 p.m.|
Free tickets for all Astronomy Night Planetarium shows are available one week before each show and must be reserved online. There is a limit of 5 tickets per group. Printed tickets must be presented at the door for admission. We will no longer be issuing tickets at the door. Tickets are void if presented after the start time listed on the ticket - latecomers will NOT be seated.
- Planetarium shows take place in a dark indoor domed theater.
- Please arrive before the start time. Latecomers will not be admitted.
- Planetarium shows are appropriate for ages 7 and up.
- Please do not bring cell phones, beepers, music players, food or beverages into the planetarium.
- For large groups we recommend that you schedule a private show at the planetarium.
- The planetarium is located in Coykendall Science building.
- A typical viewing night at Smolen Observatory will include a planet or two, star clusters, binary stars, and nebulae.
- Observatory visitors will spend most of their time outdoors. Be sure to dress appropriately; it always feels colder when you are standing still for long periods of time.
- Visitors of any age are welcome at the observatory, but we ask that younger children be under adult supervision at all times.
- The observatory is wheelchair accessible.
- You may come and go to the observatory as you please during the viewing time.
- Tickets are not required for the observatory viewing.
- Once the viewing has begun the outdoor lighting surrounding the observatory will be turned off. Be prepared to walk to and from your vehicle in the dark.
- There are no restroom facilities at the observatory.
- Scout troops, school groups, etc. are welcome to attend the public viewing nights. We do appreciate you letting us know in advance so that there are not too many groups present in one night.
- The observatory is located in the Alumni Soccer fields on the south side of the campus.
Private Planetarium Shows
The planetarium is available for private shows, such as for birthday parties and for corporate, civic, hospital, church, and scouting organizations. Teachers are welcome to arrange a visit to the planetarium as a field trip activity.
- There is a $3.50 per person charge for private showings.
- Seating is limited to 44 people.
- Shows are typically one hour in duration.
- The show’s content can be customized for your group.
- Shows can be geared to any age group from children through adults.