Astronomy Nights are held on the first and third Thursday of each month that the university is in session. Astronomy Night activities are appropriate for ages 7 and up. The free program begins with an indoor planetarium show at the John R. Kirk Planetarium (tickets are REQUIRED for the planetarium show). A second show will be offered if the first show reaches capacity. After the planetarium show Smolen Observatory will be open for telescope viewing only if the sky is clear (no tickets are required at the Observatory).
Free tickets for all Astronomy Night Planetarium shows are available one week before each show and must be reserved online. There is a limit of 5 tickets per group. Printed tickets must be presented at the door for admission.
Call the Observatory at 845-257-1110 to hear a message indicating if the public viewing has been canceled due to cloudy weather. Visitors can participate in either the planetarium show, observatory telescope viewing, or both.
The Planetarium is an indoor domed theater that seats 44. The Planetarium’s projection system was upgraded in 2013 with the installation of a fish-eye lens projector that can display digital simulations of the sky and mimic celestial motions. It allows the audience to see and zoom in on images of stars, constellations, planets, galaxies and other deep sky objects. It also allows the audience to view the sky as seen from different planets and moons, and has many other features.
The primary goal of the SUNY New Paltz Planetarium program is education, so we will also feature shows especially geared toward children. We can provide special times and shows for teachers who wish to bring their classes to the Planetarium. Similar arrangements can be made for special showings for other groups, such as corporate, civic, hospital, church, and scouting organizations.
SUNY New Paltz Planetarium Shows
Planetarium shows are appropriate for ages 7 and up.
Printed tickets are required for public planetarium shows.
Planetarium shows take place in a dark indoor domed theater.
Please arrive before the start time. Latecomers will not be admitted.
For large groups (five or more) we recommend that you schedule a private show at the Planetarium.
The Planetarium is located in Coykendall Science building.
A typical viewing night at Smolen Observatory will include a planet or two, star clusters, binary stars, and nebulae.
Observatory visitors will spend most of their time outdoors. Be sure to dress appropriately; it always feels colder when you are standing still for long periods of time.
Visitors of any age are welcome at the Observatory, but we ask that younger children be under adult supervision at all times.
The Observatory is wheelchair accessible.
You may come and go to the Observatory as you please during the viewing time.
Tickets are not required for the observatory viewing.
Once the viewing has begun the outdoor lighting surrounding the Observatory will be turned off. Be prepared to walk to and from your vehicle in the dark.
There are no restroom facilities at the Observatory.
Scout troops, school groups, etc. are welcome to attend the public viewing nights. We do appreciate you letting us know in advance so that there are not too many groups present in one night.
The Observatory is located in the Alumni Soccer Fields on the south side of the campus.