Public Observing at the Van Vleck Observatory


Important Notice: the Announcements by the WHO & CDC as to the global pandemic have changed how they are responding to Covid 19. No longer will vaccinations and home test kits via Medicare be free, charges will go through your insurance company. Covid-19 is still out there and new variations are still occurring. To that end, the University still expects that all visitors be Fully Vaccinated, we just will not be checking vaccination cards any longer. Masks covering both your nose and mouth are strongly encouraged within the observatory building.

Hosted by volunteers from the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford and sponsored by the Astronomy Department of Wesleyan University. Public observing is always free and open to everyone.

Join us for a look through the historic 20-inch refractor and other telescopes. All who come will have an opportunity to see through the eyepiece, weather permitting. We will be viewing prominent objects in the night sky such as the moon, globular clusters, planets, nebulas, or galaxies. The objects viewed will change each month, or even during your visit.

All are welcome.

If you would like to attend an observing event, please see the directions and important parking information here. Starting time and other information for each date is also listed. Please note there is no parking at the observatory at all, but you certainly may drop off passengers who have difficulty with stairs or changes in elevation. The small parking lot adjacent to the observatory building is for staff use only and you will likely be ticketed.

If the chart above is not up-to-date in your browser, click on it to get the current predictions.

Public observing sessions are cancelled for adverse weather conditions. Announcements will be above the observing dates at left and in our Groups.io e-mail group by 6:00 pm on the day of the session.

Note that should the weather not permit observing due to precipitation or heavy cloud cover, we will not open the telescopes. Use your best judgment in looking at the sky before you leave for the observatory. If clouds cover the entire sky, we cannot see the stars. If you have a telescope and need support, you may bring it even if we cannot observe by contacting us in advance to make arrangements for assistance. Our members can help walk you through setup and operation, even indoors.

Please note that while there is a ramp to the building, the telescopes are only accessible by staircases with several steps. Often a viewing ladder on wheels will be used to reach the necessary position at the telescope. Persons who must use a wheelchair will need to be able to leave the chair for viewing through the telescopes inside the observatory.

When observing from inside the dome we use dim red lighting to preserve our eyes dark adaptation, please don’t take any photos using flash. Also children’s lighted footwear has become popular recently and can be quite bright, so we’d like to respectfully request that they be left at home.

Visit ASGH-Events@groups.io to view notifications regarding upcoming Public Observing sessions.