Long Island’s North Fork is home to the only astronomical observatory on the island – The Custer Institute and Observatory.
With the first building going up in 1939, The Custer Institute has been Long Island’s gateway to the stars for almost 80 years. From the first day, they drew public interest – and why not? Those stars up there are not just beautiful but mysterious!
The observatory is free and open to the public every Saturday from dusk until midnight. Guided tours of the facility and the night sky are available from the observatory volunteers.
Several telescopes are set up on the lawn for use, along with the amazing binocular telescope in the observatory shed. Looking through the big, 25″ Obsession telescope that peers up out of the opening in the 22′ diameter dome on the third story of the observatory is a must, though. These powerful lenses all offer a view of the night sky unlike any other you’ve ever seen (assuming you’ve never been to an observatory before, of course).
The Custer Institute and Observatory is not all just stars and telescopes, either. They also have a museum and library on the premises, with photos, exhibits, and reference materials relating to astronomy and astronomical observation.
The Custer Institute is also involved in what they call The Music Project, a special program created to encourage musical expression and education, as well as to provide a venue for local performers to showcase their musical talent. The next concert is scheduled for March 22nd, 2014 at 6pm: Belle Voci Operatic Duo.
Imagine an evening of live music and while stargazing through powerful, professional telescopes … wow!
The Custer Institute hosts a variety of educational programs scheduled to coincide with astronomical events, such as meteor showers, so be sure to check their website for information related to upcoming events.
Views at the observatory are weather and lunar dependent: a clear, moonless night is optimal. A full or near full moon is a bad thing, as its light blots out all else – even good views of itself! Generally, the less moon – the better. Consult a moon calendar to help plan your visit.
The Custer Institute and Observatory
1115 Main Bayview Rd, Southold, NY 11971
For directions and schedules, please visit: custerobservatory.org
North Fork Lodging
Arbor View House is only 15 minutes from the Custer Institute, and would love to host your visit to the area. Let us help you enjoy yourself with our suggestions for things to do, places to go, wineries to visit and more.