Welcome to the Rolnick Observatory

The Tower

The Tower

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 MEETING: Tuesday, September 16, 8:00pm

The Westport Astronomical Society’s Free Monthly Lecture Series

 

Stefan Nicolescu

Stefan Nicolescu

September 16 Dr. Stefan Nicolescu, Collections Manager of Mineralogy and Meteoritics at the Yale Peabody Museum will present data and images related to the astonishing meteoritics events of 2013.

Meteorite falls and finds are fascinating events because of their out of this world connection. However, it is not very often that the reverberations of such events are grabbing national and international headlines. 2013 was an exceptional year in this respect, with the Chelyabinsk (Russia) asteroid fall and the NWA 7325 meteorite find in Morocco being reported across the world. Closer to home, two Connecticut meteorite falls were also widely reported by regional media. All these events occurred in the short span of slightly more than three months and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, CT was directly implicated in three out of these four events.
occultation

October 21Kevin Green, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Uconn-Stamford and a WAS board 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.

Stan Honda - Total Lunar Eclipse

Stan Honda – Total Lunar Eclipse

November 18Stan Honda, a New York-based photographer for Agence France-Presse, the French news agency. He covers a wide range of topics including news events, politics, economics, sports and human interest stories. Photographing the space shuttle program for five years was a highlight. Recent projects involve night sky landscapes, combining his interest in astronomy and photography. In 2011 he worked as artist-in-residence at the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks and most recently completed a week of photography at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.

Dr. Ashley Pagnotta

Dr. Ashley Pagnotta

 

December 16 – Dr. Ashley Pagnotta – Observational Physicist at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Pagnotta is interested in a wide variety of stellar explosions, specifically those that occur on and in white dwarfs, the leftover cores of stars like our Sun, everything from classical novae to Type Ia supernovae. She uses a variety of observational tools to conduct her research across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from the latest space X-ray telescopes to archival glass plates taken more than a century ago. Dr. Pagnotta is currently working on a survey program to determine how novae behave after their eruptions, and continues to remain interested in solving the Type Ia supernova progenitor problem.

Studying the CMB in Exquisite Detail

Studying the CMB in Exquisite Detail

Michele Limon

Michele Limon

January 20, 2015Michele Limon – Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University. “The CMB from Curiosity to Tool”

Discovered in 1965 the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is the relic thermal radiation from the hot Big Bang that gave birth to our Universe 13.7 billion year ago. In the nearly 50 years since its discovery the CMB has developed in one of the most powerful tool in the hands of cosmologist to study the evolution and compositions of our Universe. In this talk I will walk thought the major theoretical and observational milestones of the last five decades, describe the current state of the art in CMB research and speculate about its future.

 

Dr. Carter Emmart

Dr. Carter Emmart

February 17, 2015 – Dr. Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium – Carter is the Director of groundbreaking space shows and heads up development of the interactive 3D atlas The Digital Universe.
Imre Bartos

Imre Bartos

March 17, 2015 - Imre Bartos, Columbia University physicist. Black Holes, and What We Can Learn from Them without Falling in Breakthroughs in our understanding of the physical world often come from the exploration of Nature at its extremes. In many cases these explorations lead us far away from Earth, into the cosmos. From the earliest times and greatest distances, to the strongest forces and highest energies, astronomical observations helped us reach depths unachievable on Earth. Black holes are one of the most mysterious creatures of the cosmos. They are barely observable from afar, but show peculiar behavior once something or someone is nearby. We have surprisingly little information about them (none has been directly observed so far!), and we seem to have no mechanism at our disposal, even in principle, to peek into their inner workings. Beyond being distant, enigmatic objects, black holes are also one of the best tools to examine extreme phenomena and expand our horizon of fundamental physics and astronomy. I will present black holes from this, somewhat unusual, perspective: their role in helping us better understand Nature.

Please Support Science in your Community with a Donation to WAS

Contribute $29.95 to WAS and use Slooh for 90 days – FREE!

Slooh

Click the banner and contribute $29.95 to the Westport Astronomical Society and you get Slooh FREE for 90 days! BENEFITS:
  • Robotic control of Slooh’s three telescopes in the northern (Canary Islands) and southern hemispheres (Chile)
  • Schedule time and point the telescopes at any object in the night sky. You can make up to five reservations at a time in five or ten minute increments depending on the observatory. There are no limitations on the total number of reservations you can book in any quarter.
  • Capture, collect, and share images, including PNG and FITS files.  You can view and take images from any of the 250+ “missions” per night, including those scheduled by other members.
  • Watch hundreds of hours of live and recorded space shows with expert narration featuring 10+ years of magical moments in the night sky including eclipses, transits, solar flares, NEA, comets, and more.
  • See and discuss highlights from the telescopes, featuring member research, discoveries, animations, and more.
  • Join groups with experts and fellow citizen astronomers to learn and discuss within areas of interest, from astrophotography and tracking asteroids to exoplanets and life in the Universe.
  • Access Slooh workshops with step by step how-to instructions to master the art and science of astronomy.

There are no charges over and above your quarterly membership dues. Once you activate your account, your credit card will be charged $29.95 for the first three months of service. Thereafter, Slooh will bill your credit card $74.85 for quarterly membership dues. Slooh will automatically forward your initial payment of $29.95 to the Westport Astronomical Society. 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.

Live Sky Views from the Rolnick Observatory

Click the photo 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.