Public nights will be scheduled approximately once per month and for special occasions. MASKS ARE MANDATORY. For updates, please check the events listing below or our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter feeds.
Thanks and see you soon under the bright skies of Westport!
Since 1975, the Westport Astronomical Society has brought the wonders of the night sky to the thousands who have visited the observatory. We’re an all volunteer-run, non-profit organization that’s free and open to the public every Wednesday night from 8-10 pm if the skies are clear. Remember, near the summer solstice it doesn’t get dark until late, so please plan to come after sunset.
The Dome Observatory covers a brand new Celestron EdgeHD purchased in 2019 on top of a Astrophysics 1200 German Equatorial mount with an Explore Scientific 102mm f/7 Essential Apochromatic ED Triplet Refractor piggybacked on top. The lawn regularly hosts the HUGE 25″ Obsession telescope, one of the largest in Connecticut. You can also occasionally find us doing sidewalk astronomy in the community with various 8-10″ Dobsonian telescopes and we really love viewing the sun with the Lunt LS100Tha double stacked solar telescope.
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, MIT, Wesleyan, Columbia as well as 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.
Dr. Lucy Fortson, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics – Mapping the Haystack while Finding the Needles: How Crowdsourcing Science is Solving Big Data Problems in Research
Fairfield County’s Giving Day – Our Annual Fundraiser!
It’s time to do a long overdue overhaul of the tower that supports our dome and telescope. The tower is the former home of a NIKE radar installation that was part of an Army base in the 50’s and 60’s. Once the Army left, some enterprising young lads put a telescope and a dome on the southernmost of our 2 towers and called it an observatory. We’ve had it since 1975 and it’s really time for some TLC.
Not many people see the tower in daylight, but it looks really, really grim… At 70 years old it’s holding up okay, but we need your help to restore this great big beast in order to prevent more rust and degradation.
We need to do something about it now and we need you to help. Since we can’t currently host any public nights due to Covid restrictions, it is a great time to work on a project like this.
Here are our short and long term plans:
Improve the weather protection in the dome to protect the telescope, optical equipment, and computers from the blowing wind and rain, by replacing weather stripping and molding around the dome perimeter and slot.
Replace the rusted entrance door and frame.
Improve the drainage within the tower so rain doesn’t get onto the stairwell and inner steel frame of the tower.
Repaint the exterior of the tower.
Clean and repaint the internal steel infrastructure.
Limited dome automation to track with the telescope.
Paint the interior of the dome black.
Please join our campaign and help us reach our goal of $5,000! We need you to tell your friends and family members about how important the Westport Observatory is to you and ask them to join us in helping to make a difference.
Get ready to give! On Feb 25, starting at 12 AM, visit https://www.fcgives.org/organizations/westport-astronomical-society and make a donation to us and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations that make a difference in our community. You will have 24 hours to make your donation, and all giving will end at 11:59PM on Feb 25.
PLEASE give generously to our project, it’s important that the observatory lasts another 6 or 7 decades so we can continue to bring science to our community.
Thierry Legault – Capturing the Most Elusive Objects in the Solar System
WE WILL NOT BE OPENING THE OBSERVATORY
One of the best astrophotographers in the world joins the WAS Team for a fantastic evening of stories from his home in the light polluted suburbs of Paris. Thierry has traveled all over the planet capturing some of the most elusive objects in the solar system, many of which last for just seconds.
Known for his many submissions to Astronomy Picture of the Day as well as his images of the ISS, eclipses, transits, and the extreme lengths he’ll go to capture just about every unusual and difficult astrophotography image. Thierry Legault is at the top of his game.
Dr. Lisa Upton – Space Systems Research Corporation
WE WILL NOT BE OPENING THE OBSERVATORY
Dr. Upton began her education in Solar Physics working with Dr. Joan Schmelz at the University of Memphis in 2006. There, she performed thermal and density analysis of coronal loops using data from CDS, TRACE, EIS and XRT. In 2008, Lisa received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Physics and in 2010 she received her M.S. degrees in Physics from UM. While there, she became interested in another aspect of solar physics: the solar activity cycle.
During the summer of 2009, Dr. Upton had an internship at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where she began working with Dr. David Hathaway using feature tracking to measure the axisymmetric flows on the surface of the Sun.
In 2013, Dr. Upton transferred to Vanderbilt University while continuing her work with Dr. Hathaway in Huntsville. In May of 2014, she received her Ph.D. in Physics from Vanderbilt University. For her PhD dissertation (Characterizing and Modeling Magnetic Flux Transport in the Sun’s Photosphere and Determining Its Impact on the Sunspot Cycle), Dr. Upton and Dr. Hathaway worked together to develope a cutting edge Surface Flux Transport model, the Advective Flux Transport ( AFT). Dr. Upton used the AFT model to investigate the importance of high latitude meridional flow variations in modulating the solar cycle as well as the ability of AFT to produce solar cycle predictions.
September of 2014, Dr. Upton relocated to Colorado. There she began working for Space Systems Research Corporation and held a role as a Visiting Scientist at HAO. In the spring of 2017, Dr. Upton began a NSF postdoctoral fellowship* at HAO, working as a collaborator with the dynamo group. Dr. Upton’s current research goals are aimed at understanding the solar dynamo, solar cycle variability, and the impact on the Sun-Earth environment. In particular her interests lie in observing and modeling magnetic flux transport. In the future, Lisa hopes advance Sun-Earth system research by bridging the solar interior and the solar atmosphere with AFT. She also hope to use AFT as a tool to improve Space Weather and Space Climate predictions.
WE WILL NOT BE OPENING THE OBSERVATORY
The WAS Pre-Solstice Summer Picnic and Board Elections
It’s been a very trying year and since we couldn’t have the picnic in 2020, we hope to fire up the WAS Grill of Questionable Carbonation this year for a well deserved Star-B-Q for our members, friends and family. And we vote for the 2021 WAS Board of Directors.
The Connecticut Star Party – CSP30 – Connecticut’s Premier Star Party!
Never been to a star party with large aperture telescopes? Here’s a great opportunity!
For the 30th year, our friends at the Astronomical Society of New Haven will open online registration later this year for Connecticut’s premier star party CSP30 in one of the darkest locations in the state! This is the sixth year at the beautiful Edmund D. Strang Scout Reservation in Goshen, CT.
Join the WAS Away Team this weekend and take in the cool and beautiful skies of Northwest CT!
Visual astronomy only works if you can see the sky!
Astronomers, check these links to plan your observing:
• WAS on Weather Underground • Hourly astronomy conditions
• Current/Future conditions
• Transparency animation
• Seeing animation
Since 1975, the Westport Astronomical Society has been introducing new generations to the wonders of the night sky. Become a member today for special access to members-only benefits while helping support science in your community.Become a Member
We want to see you here at the Westport Observatory. Get directions and come to our events!Directions/Talk To Us