Join Us to Learn About the Universe

We feature talks on current astronomical topics and observing through our rooftop telescope


Generally, one Friday a month during the semesters. Check the schedule below. The lecture begins at 7:30pm. Weather-permitting, observing follows using our rooftop telescope.


Lectures take place in the Earth & Space Sciences Building (ESS) in lecture hall 001. A campus map is available here.


The observatory on the roof of the ESS building houses a 14" Meade telescope. Depending on the sky conditions and season, we will view planets, the moon, nearby nebula, globular clusters, or galaxies.

Current Schedule

Academic Year 2018-19

Fall 2018

Sept 7, 2018 Prof. Frederick Walter The SMARTS way to observe: What recent observations tell us about galactic novae
Oct 5, 2018 Prof. Alan Calder Searching for Life in the Universe
Nov 2, 2018 Prof. James Lattimer More Results from the Neutron Star Merger GW170817
Dec 7, 2018 Prof. Anja von der Linden Gravitational Lensing

Spring 2019

Feb 1, 2019 Sydney Andrews The Life and Death of Massive Stars
Mar 1, 2019 Prof. Philip Armitage The Interstellar Visitor 'Oumuamua
Apr 5, 2019 Dr. Alice Harpole Fast Radio Bursts
SPECIAL EVENT Wednesday Apr 17, 2019 Dr. Jeffrey Bennett Global Warming Demystified
May 3, 2019 Prof. Michael Zingale Gamma-Ray Bursts

About Astronomy Open Night

Open Nights at Stony Brook began with the arrival of Comet Kohoutek. Tobias Owen, Deane Peterson, and Mike Simon put together a series of lectures for the public on the comet shortly before it reached perihelion on December 28, 1973. Comet Kohoutek was a new comet, and astronomers expected it to be quite bright when it passed by the Sun on perhaps its first visit to the inner solar system. Unfortunately, the bright display never materialized. But the talks were such a hit that a series was formed.

The series has continued ever since, and we typically have 4 each semester. For further information or to have your name added to the mailing list (postal or e-mail) contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy at (631) 632-8100, or send e-mail to Nathan Leoce-Schappin.

Do try to be a little early if you can. The increasing popularity of this series has seen the lecture hall full on occasion. (And when there's a comet, you can't buy a seat). Some disability-related accommodations are available. Call the Department at the number above before 4 pm to warn us of your requirements.

In-service Credit for Teachers

Astronomy Open Night provides attendance certification for New York State teachers wishing to apply for in-service credit. Among these programs you can accumulate hours of lecture credit each year to apply toward your school district's program. Policies on in-service credit are set by school boards and you should check with your administration concerning the details of the local program.

See here for current procedures for claiming in-service credit.

Other Series