Now through spring, the sky will offer a number of don’t-miss celestial events, and Long Island has ideal places to view them.

The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport recently acquired a solar telescope, and a new observatory opened in Montauk, where light pollution is less intrusive than in more populated areas.

“You can see all these different things going on,” says Patrick Keefe, director of communications at Vanderbilt. “Flares leaping off the sun, spots. . . . Staring at something 93 million miles away is jaw-dropping.”

At the Montauk observatory, executive director Donna McCormick says, “We have a large lecture space and will be offering regular programs.” The best places on the Island to learn about and observe the night sky:

AMATEUR OBSERVERS’ SOCIETY OF NEW YORK,, astronomy-themed public meeting each first Sunday of the month from Oct. through June (second Sun. in Sept., no meetings in July and Aug.) at Hofstra University, Berliner Hall, Chemistry/Physics Building, Building 61, room 117, on California Avenue, two blocks south of Hempstead Turnpike. Dates: 1:15 p.m. Nov. 6, Dec. 4, Jan. 8, Feb. 5, March 5, April 2, May 7, June 4. The group conducts stargazing at Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center at Jones Beach State Park, information available at All stargazing is weather permitting. The organization also has the Susan Rose Observatory in Southold on the grounds of the Custer Institute and offers free observing Saturday nights; Young Astronomers program through the East Meadow Library; Astronomy Day in April at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

CUSTER OBSERVATORY, 1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold, 631-765-2626,, open to the public every Saturday from dusk to midnight, suggested donation: $5, $3 younger than 14. The oldest observatory on Long Island, Custer offers a series of astronomy-themed lectures, including: Oct. 15 “Optics and Coatings” and Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. “How to use/buy a telescope.” Nov. 5 is the Annual Jamboree.

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HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY OBSERVATORY, Herman A. Berliner Hall, the Chemistry and Physics Building, fourth floor, at the intersection of California Avenue and Huntington Place, Hempstead, Stars on Sunday is available to the public from 6-8 p.m. the first Sunday of each month. It’s free, but a reservation is required and can be made on the website.

MONTAUK OBSERVATORY, 20 Goodfriend Dr., East Hampton, on the campus of The Ross School,, free admission, donations appreciated, check website for viewing dates and access, as well as lectures and special events, including: “Cosmic Rays: Heavens, It’s Raining Particles” 7:30-9 p.m. Oct. 15, at the Observatory, $10 suggested donation; “My Journey to Mars: The Evolution of a Dream,” 7-8:30 p.m. Nov. 10, John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main St., Sag Harbor, $10 suggested.

MOUNT STONY BROOK OBSERVATORY AT STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY, Room 001, ESS Building, 100 Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook, 631-632-9464, /openight. Astronomy open nights start at 7:30 p.m. with a lecture, followed by observing (weather permitting): Oct. 28 Prof. Alan Calder; Dec. 2 Dr. Simone Dall’Osso; Jan. 27 Prof. Marilena Loverde; March 3 Prof. Fred Walter; April 7 Prof. Neelima Sehgal; May 5 Prof. Michael Zingale.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATURE CENTER AT JONES BEACH, Jones Beach State Park, 516-780-3295,, reservations strongly recommended, $4. Viewing is available each Thur. in July and Aug., and once a month from Sept. to June. Hosted by the Amateur Observers’ Society of New York, check for updated observatory schedule. Program starts around dusk and includes a discussion beforehand, followed by stargazing.

VANDERBILT MUSEUM AND PLANETARIUM, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport, 631-854-5579,, free with $9 admission (evenings); $8 students with ID and 62 and older, $7 ages 12 and younger; free for observatory or solar telescope only; solar scope open Saturday-Sunday (weather permitting). Year-round observatory viewing Friday nights.

Shooting stars

Both experienced and amateur stargazers will have plenty of things to marvel at from now through the spring. These range from planets and supermoons to major meteor showers. Here is a partial list of the wonders that await stargazers in the Northeast.

PLANETS IN OPPOSITION are times when a planet will have its closest approach to Earth: Oct. 15 Uranus; April 7 Jupiter

PLANETS IN GREATEST EASTERN ELONGATION are when a planet will be at its highest point above the horizon and easily visible: Dec. 11 Mercury; Jan. 11 Venus; April 1 Mercury

SUPERMOON is when this celestial body will be closest to Earth: Oct. 16; Nov. 14; Dec. 14

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MAJOR METEOR SHOWERS are the events most people have observed. All you need is darkness and an open sky: Oct. 20, 21 Orionids; Dec. 13, 14 Geminids; Jan. 3, 4 Quadrantids; April 22, 23 Lyrids; May 6, 7 Eta Aquarids

PENUMBRAL LUNAR ECLIPSE coming Feb. 10, 11. This can be a bit hard to see as the Earth’s shadow (umbra) misses the moon.