Welcome to the Rolnick Observatory
Since 1975 the Westport Astronomical Society has been bringing the wonders of the night sky to the tens of thousands that have visited the Rolnick Observatory.
Our free monthly lectures feature the absolute best speakers from around the world in their diverse fields of astronomy, cosmology and physics.
We’re a non-profit 501c3 organization of all volunteers that’s free and open to the public all year every Wednesday night when the skies are clear from 8-10 pm.
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.
WAS Pre-Summer Solstice Potluck Picnic & Elections:
Channel your Inner Druid and party like it’s 200 BC with your friends from the Westport Astronomical Society as we bring on the summer solstice! We bust out the Fiery WAS Grill Of Carbonation and will be cooking up delicious burgers & hotdogs. WAS supplies the burgers, weenies, condiments and soft drinks – you bring some goodies to share and we all vote on the WAS Board of Directors!
What’s up in May?
Saturn rules the night this month and positioned perfectly for viewing from the Rolnick Observatory. WAS member Carl Lydon grabbed this gorgeous shot April 30, 2013. As good as this is, Saturn looks even better through our telescopes!
Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4)
PanSTARRS is on the way back to deep space and never reached naked eye visibility from The Rolnick Observatory. But it still looks great in the camera!
ISON (C/2012 S1)
WAS members Carl Lancaster and Martin Hamar have been keeping a close eye on what could allegedly be the “Comet of the Century”. Known as Comet ISON it could brighten in November and December to a level no modern humans have ever seen. Or, as sometimes goes with an over-hyped comet, it could be a massive dud.
Earlier this year Carl Lancaster made some animations of the comet cruising towards the sun and you can see a small tail starting to develop.
Check out the story and the images HERE!
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.
Upcoming Events at the Rolnick Observatory
Andrew Kessler:July 16 – Author of Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission
Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter: May 28 - The two bright planets will be within 1 degree of each other in the evening sky. The planet Mercury will also will also be visible nearby. Look to the west near sunset.Summer Solstice: June 21 - The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower: July 28-29 - The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Perseids Meteor Shower: August 12-13 - The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The near first quarter moon will set before midnight, leaving optimal conditions and dark skies for what should be an awesome show. Bob Meadows’ Annual Stellafane Report: August 20 - Bob Meadows’ annual rundown of the incredible one of a kind telescopes and homemade astronomical equipment from the Stellafane Convention. Neptune at Opposition: August 27 - The blue planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. Caleb Scharf, Director of Astrobiology, Columbia University: September 17 Fall Equinox: September 22 - The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. Uranus at Opposition: October 3 - The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: October 18 - The eclipse will be visible throughout most of the world except for Australia and extreme eastern Siberia Orionids Meteor Shower: October 22-22 - The gibbous moon will be a problem this year, hiding all but the brightest meteors with its glare. Hybrid Solar Eclipse: November 3 - The eclipse path will begin in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States and move east across the Atlantic and across central Africa Leonids Meteor Shower: November 17-18 - 01. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 – 20. The full moon will prevent this from being a great show this year, but with up to 40 meteors per hour possible, this could still be a good show. Look for the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight. Geminids Meteor Shower: December 13-15 - The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Gemini. The gibbous moon could be a problem this year, hiding man of the fainter meteors. But with up to 60 meteors per hour predicted, this should still be a good show. Winter Solstice: December 21 - The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude.
Hours for the Rolnick Observatory
The Rolnick Observatory opens on Wednesdays from 8-10 pm if the skies are clear. In summer, near the solstice, we recommend coming well after sunset to see dark sky objects. Make sure to check our Twitter or Facebook feeds to see if we’ll open up the dome or give us a call at (203) 293-8759.
What’s this thing?
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 of 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.