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||2012-2013 Dates||Planetarium show begins*||Observatory open (if sky is clear)
|Fall||September – Daylight Savings Time ends (mid-November)||Sept. 6
|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||Nov. 15
|6:30 p.m.||7:30-8:30 p.m.|
|Spring||Daylight Savings Time begins (mid-March) – May||March 21
|7:30 p.m.||8:30-9:30 p.m.|
|Summer||June – August
(Note that June 6 and July 4 are cancelled due to summer holidays, but a make-up Astro Night will take place on May 30 instead)
|8:30 p.m.||9:30-10:30 p.m.|
*If the planetarium show fills to capacity a second show will be offered one hour later and the observatory will stay open to later to accommodate the additional visitors.
- Planetarium shows take place in a dark indoor domed theater.
- Please arrive early to reserve a seat for the show.
- Visitors of any age are welcome, but we ask that younger children be under adult supervision at all times.
- 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.
- 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.