The Institute of Astronomy is open every Wednesday evening 7 - 9pm throughout the winter.
Please note that our 2012/13 winter observing season is now finished. We resume in October 2013.
Entrance is free, and there is * no need to book * unless you are a group of 15-25 people.
An astronomer from the Institute will present a half-hour public talk, starting promptly at 7.15pm. This followed by an opportunity to look through the historical Northumberland and Thorrowgood telescopes if and only if the weather is clear. Members of the Cambridge Astronomical Association also set up modern telescopes on the observatory lawns, with video projection facility and expert commentary. We can't always guarantee observing, of course, as it is very weather-dependent. However, the talk will always take place, and on a cloudy evening will be followed by a tea break and some short entertainment from the CAA.
The main entrance doors are open by 6.50pm. Please note that there is limited space in the lecture theatre, and seating is available on a first-come, first-seated basis. If you wish to skip the talk and only attend the observing, please do not turn up at the telescopes before 7.45pm, as we shall still be setting up and you will be in the way...
We have to make a decision at around 645pm whether to set up the telescopes or not, and it's entirely weather-dependent - we can't observe if it's misty/raining/cloudy/very windy. A basic rule of thumb is that if you can't see any stars, then neither can we!
Check the live all-sky camera from the roof of the Observatory building
Observing can sometimes be cold, so please bring wrap up warmly. You are welcome to bring a torch to help you find your way about the site; but if so, please wrap up the end in something seethrough and RED (such as a transparent sweet wrapper) so you don't lose your (or anyone else's) night vision.
We have maps showing how to find the IoA . There is plenty of parking available , with 3 car parks along Madingley Rise. It is perhaps sensible to allow a little time for finding parking and walking back to the IoA; you can always drop off people at the main entrance before finding parking. Please do not park along the verge or pavement on Madingley Rise.
Children are of course welcome; but please be aware that not all the talks will hold their interest for 30 minutes. Please look at the talk schedule to see which might be particularly suitable for a younger audience. Alternatively, it's always possible to sneak out during the talk and look at the pretty pictures around the department instead till the observing begins.
Small groups of people (ie 15-25) are welcome; however, we have to limit such groups to only one per session so that we can retain the 'drop-in' public nature of the evening. Larger groups are requested to contact Carolin to discuss the possibility of setting up a private viewing night instead.
The building, lecture theatre, outside floor show and one of the two historical telescopes all are wheelchair-accessible. There is a disabled parking place next to the front door at the left. Please get in touch with us if you have any specific concerns.