Welcome to the Rolnick Observatory

The Observatory Tower

This year the Westport Astronomical Society celebrates 41 years of bringing the wonders of the night sky to the thousands who have visited the Observatory. We’re a non-profit organization of all volunteers that’s free and open to the public every Wednesday night from 8-10 pm, if the skies are clear. 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 has free monthly meetings with experts at the top of their fields. We feature speakers from the Hayden Planetarium, The American Museum of Natural History, Yale, NYU, UConn, Columbia and educators from all over the globe who enrich our community with cutting edge discussions on cosmology, physics and astronomy. Additionally, there are additional special, private events scheduled throughout the year for our members and supporters.


Check out and register on our forum! Discuss the sky and upcoming events with members of the Westport Astronomical Society.


NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, February 16, 8:00 pm

Eric Raymer, Columbia Science Fellow in the Department of Physics
Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients
Dr. Eric Raymer

Dr. Eric Raymer


When black holes or neutron stars are in binary systems, they can sometimes eat material from their companion stars. This behavior is interesting because as the gas falls onto the surface of the black hole / neutron star, it’s heated to the point where it emits extremely luminous X-ray flares.

Observers are watching these flares with satellites such as XMM-Newton, INTEGRAL and Chandra. In the case of Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients, the flares are much faster and much brighter than we would expect, and we don’t know why!


The Westport Astronomical Society’s Free Monthly Lecture Series

Coming Soon:

March 15, 2016 – Tabetha Boyajian, postdoctoral Fellow at Yale
The PlanetHunters and the case for the Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy
Dr. Tabetha Boyajian

Dr. Tabetha Boyajian

Dr. Boyajian’s research interests involve determining the fundamental properties of stars and characterization of exoplanet host stars.  Her observing experience includes long baseline optical/infrared interferometry, and optical spectroscopy.  Boyajian also works on modeling data from the Kepler space telescope for the PlanetHunters project (www.planethunters.org).

Boyajian recently made headlines across the world with the announcement of a very peculiar star (KIC 8462852) imaged by the Kepler space telescope. The Atlantic’s story on The Most Mysterious Star in our Galaxy became an instant water cooler topic. Dr. Boyajian will have the latest data and explain the current theories of what makes this star so interesting.
May 17 – Dr. Stella Kafka, Director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
aavso-logo-iphone-5-soft-cover_designVariable Stars and Their Stories – The Good, The Bad and the Explosive
Dr. Stella Kafka

Dr. Stella Kafka

Good variable stars show very regular periodic signals that can be directly tied to physical processes – like stellar pulsations. Bad variable stars have messier variability, such as star spots rotating in and out of view as they evolve. Finally, some stars explode and suddenly brighten by orders of magnitude.

The AAVSO has been collecting data on variable stars for over a hundred years since its founding at the Harvard Observatory in 1911. The AAVSO is an international non-profit organization of citizen scientist / variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.


Please Support Science in your Community with a Donation to WAS

84bc2b31-cefa-4954-8026-6044c1b5b2c9The Rolnick Observatory is an all volunteer organization 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.

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.