Welcome to the Rolnick Observatory

We’re a non-profit 501c3 organization comprised of dedicated volunteers that is dedicated to bringing the wonders of the night sky to the public. Come and join us every Wednesday night from 8-10pm (weather permitting & when the skies are clear) for our public nights and enjoy the views of planets, nebulae, and other deep sky objects through our telescopes. The Dome Observatory houses a 12.5″ Newtonian telescope and the lawn regularly hosts the newly upgraded and HUGE 25″ Obsession telescope, the largest in Connecticut available to the public.

In addition, please join us for our free monthly lectures, featuring the best speakers from around the world in diverse fields such as astronomy, cosmology, and physics.

NEXT FREE MEETING: Tuesday May 20, 8:00pm

Experimental Particle and Astro-Physics with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN
Columbia's Dr. Travis Bain

Columbia’s Dr. Travis Bain

With Columbia Physicist Dr. Travis Bain
I’ll present a short history of experimental particle physics leading up to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and the discovery of the Higgs Boson. I will discuss the implications of this discovery for science in general and for particle/astro-physics in particular. I will introduce searches for ‘Beyond The Standard Model’ particles, with implications for astrophysics and cosmology, specifically Supersymmetry and generic Dark Matter searches. I will finish with some mild speculation about what the future may hold for experimental particle physics and how the field may progress in the next 20 years.

 Upcoming Speakers/Events with the Westport Astronomical Society

June 17 – Westport Astronomical Society’s Pre-Summer Solstice Elections & Potluck Picnic

 Saturn's Moon Titan

Saturn’s Moon Titan

July 15 - WAS Member George McDonald takes the summer off from Cornell for a fascinating talk on “Titan’s Surface: Methane Rivers and Plastic Dunes”



August 19 – Observatory Director Bob Meadows runs down all the latest and greatest innovations from Stellafane.

September 19 - Stefan Nicolescu, the collections manager of the Yale mineralogy division returns to give his full talk on meteorites.

occultationOctober 21 – Kevin Green, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Uconn-Stamford and WAS member will talk about his passion for getting the Westport Astronomical Society to do some REAL science by observing occultations.

An occultation is when one celestial body passes in front of another, hiding the more distant body from the observer. Occultations of stars by solar system asteroids, planets and planetoids are visible daily somewhere on planet Earth if you have the proper equipment and are in the right place at the right time. While it can be pretty cool to watch a star disappear and then reappear, occultation observations are rather useful scientifically. Kevin will discuss occultations, how they are used in different scientific pursuits, and how the Westport Astronomical Society can get involved locally in what is now a very global pursuit.

Support Science in your Community with a Donation

The Rolnick Observatory is 100% supported by your donations and memberships. We are all unpaid volunteers and completely rely on YOU for financial support. No tax-deductible amount you can give is too small and no amount is too great! Please donate or become a member today: Individual, Family and Corporate memberships are available.

tjcPLSIUpcoming 2014 Astronomical Events:

April 22, 23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower - Around 20 meteors per hour in dark locations

April 29 – New Moon
April 29 – Annular Solar Eclipse – An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun. This results in a ring of light around the darkened Moon – NOT visible in USA
May 5, 6, 7 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower – Up to 30 meteors an hour in dark locations, could be a good year
May 10 – Saturn at opposition - The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun.
May 14 – Full Flower Moon
May 20 – Columbia Physicist Dr. Travis Bain visits the Rolnick Observatory
May 24Possible meteor storm! – In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 24, the Earth will pass through the debris field left behind by a small comet known as P/209 LINEAR. Astronomers are predicting that this interaction may result in a brief but intense burst of meteor activity that could range from dozens to hundreds of meteors per hour. Nothing is certain, but many mathematical models are predicting that this could be the most intense meteor shower in more than a decade.
May 25 – Mercury reaches maximum dusk elongation, 22.7 degrees east of the Sun. Mercury’s best evening apparition for 2014 for northern hemisphere viewers.
May 28 – New Moon
June 7 – Conjunction of the Moon and Mars – The Moon will pass within two degrees of the planet Mars. Look for both objects in the western sky just after sunset.
June 13 – Full Strawberry Moon
June 17 – Westport Astronomical Society’s Pre-Summer Solstice Picnic and Elections!
June 22 – The Summer Solstice 6:51am ET
June 22 – The International Space Station enters a period of full illumination near the June solstice, favoring multiple views for northern hemisphere viewers.
June 24 – The waning crescent Moon passes within a degree of Venus, a great time for spotting the planet in the daytime.
June 27 – New Moon
July 4 – Earth reaches aphelion at 2:00 UT, at 152,098,232 kilometers from the Sun.
July 4 – Pluto reaches opposition
July 12 – Full Buck Moon, The first Full Proxigean “Super” Moon (1 of 3) for 2014
July 24, 25, 26, 27Stellafane
July 25 to Aug 3 - The Summer Star Party
July 26 – New Moon
July 28, 29 – Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower – A thin crescent moon shouldn’t affect viewers in dark skies to see up to 20 meteors per hour.
August 2 – A close conjunction of Mercury and Jupiter occurs, with the planets just 0.9 degrees
August 10 – Full Sturgeon Moon, the Closest Full Moon of the year & “Super” Moon (2 of 3) for 2014 occurs
August 12, 13Perseids Meteor Shower – Always a favorite, with up to 60 meteors per hour. A waning gibbous moon will wash out some of the meteors this year.
August 18 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter – The two bright planets will come unusually close to each other, only a quarter of a degree, in the early morning sky. The closest conjunction of two naked eye planets in 2014
August 22, 23 – The Conjunction
Aug 22, 23, 24Black Forest Star Party
August 25 – New Moon
August 29 – Neptune at opposition
September 9 – Full Corn Moon, the final Full “Super” Moon (3 of 3) for 2014
September 23 – September equinox – Fall begins
September 24 – New Moon
September 26, 27, 28The Connecticut Star Party (CSP)
October 7 – Uranus at opposition
October 8 – Full Hunters Moon
October 8Total Lunar Eclipse – totality at the Rolnick Observatory around 7:30 am
October 8, 9 – Draconids Meteor Shower – The Full Moon will drown out most of the 10 meteors an hour this shower produces
October 19 – Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring passes just 7’ from the planet Mars.
October 22, 23 – Orionids Meteor Shower – No moon so possibly a great year to see up to 20 meteors per hour
October 23 – New Moon
October 23Partial Solar Eclipse – Barely visible from the Rolnick Observatory beginning around 6:45 pm
November 1 – Mercury reaches its greatest elongation 18.7 degrees west of the Sun, shining at magnitude -0.5. The best morning apparition of Mercury for 2014 as seen from the northern hemisphere.
November 2 – Daylight Savings Time
November 5, 6 – Taurids Meteor Shower – 5 to 10 meteors per hour will be drowned out by the Full Moon
November 6 – Full Beaver Moon
November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower – Up to 15 meteors per hour at best and will not be dramatically affected by the waning crescent moon
November 22 – New Moon
December 6 – Full Cold Moon
December 9 – A double shadow transit of Jupiter’s moons occurs from 11:18 to 11:27 pm, visible from the Rolnick Observatory
December 13, 14Geminids Meteor Shower – Arguably one of the best meteor showers, possibly producing up to 120 meteors per hour at peak. The waning gibbous moon will wash out the dimmest meteors but there’s plenty to choose from!
December 21 – December Solstice – Winter begins
December 22 – New Moon
December 22, 23 – Ursids Meteor Shower – With no moon visible this could be a very good shower, producing 5 to 10 bright meteors per hour

A 360 degree, scrollable view of the Rolnick Observatory campus with the 25″ Obsession

Live Sky Views from the Rolnick Observatory

Click the panorama for an animated series of recent images

What’s this thing?

Clear Sky forecast

Clear Sky Forecast for the Rolnick Observatory

It’s the astronomer’s forecast. It shows when it will be cloudy or clear for up to the next two days. It’s a prediction when The Rolnick Observatory will have good weather for astronomical observing. Hint: If you see white blocks at night near the red vertical line (midnight), there’s a good chance we’ll be closed. Click the image to refresh.