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Long Island planetariums and observatories where you can see the night skies

Chuck Cardona, president of the Custer Institute and

Chuck Cardona, president of the Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold, star-gazing through the observatory's telescope. Credit: Randee Daddona

Long Island, with its expanse of clear skies and, especially on the East End, little light pollution, is a great place to observe celestial happenings. This fall into winter offers meteor showers, planetary sightings and even supermoons. Here are the best places to take in a virtual astronomy lecture and, on a clear night, observe the stars, planets and the Milky Way.

AMATEUR OBSERVERS’ SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, aosny.org, Online virtual meetings with guest speakers on first Sunday of the month at 1:15 p.m. For information and registration check the website. AOS Observatory at Custer Institute, 1115 Main Bayview Rd., off Route 25A, Southold, 631-765-2626. Open on clear Saturday nights, weather permitting. Views through AOS's 14" telescope via digital eyepiece to an outdoor screen. Social distancing and masks required.

CUSTER OBSERVATORY, 1115 Main Bayview Rd., off Route 25, Southold, 631-765-2626, custerobservatory.org. Saturday night observing (weather permitting) from 7 p.m. to Midnight. Staff provide guided tours of the night sky through the powerful telescopes. Facial coverings and social distancing are required. Fee $5, $3 ages 11 and younger.

HAMPTONS OBSERVATORY (formerly Montauk Observatory), hamptonsobservatory.org. Check website for viewing dates and access, as well as for frequent lectures, stargazing events and portable planetarium shows throughout the towns of the East End. Arrangements may be made for private star parties and other programs in exchange for a donation. Questions or to join the mailing list for news and event notices: HamptonsObservatory@gmail.com.

HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY OBSERVATORY, Herman A. Berliner Hall, the Chemistry and Physics Building, fourth floor, California Avenue and Huntington Place, Uniondale, hofstra.edu/astronomy. Currently closed due to coronavirus, check website for any future stargazing programs.

MOUNT STONY BROOK OBSERVATORY AT STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY, Stony Brook, astro.sunysb.edu/openight/. Astronomy Open Night lectures are virtual and start at 7:30 p.m. every Friday night. Check the website to register and event schedule.

VANDERBILT MUSEUM AND PLANETARIUM, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport, 631-854-5579, vanderbiltmuseum.org. Planetarium shows. Fee Fri.-Sat. evening admission: $10 adults, $9 ages 62 and older and students with ID, $8 ages 12 and younger; Daytime shows includes general admission: $16, $15 ages 62 and older and students with ID, $13 ages 12 and younger. Visitors are required to wear face coverings and practice social distance while in the planetarium. Vanderbilt Observatory remains closed due to COVID-19.

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