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Night Sky

Observing Evenings

Public Open Evenings at the IoA

The Institute of Astronomy is open every Wednesday 7 - 9pm between October and March. Entrance is free, and there is no need to book (unless your group has more than 15 people). Each evening consists of a 30 minute public talk about astronomy, followed by (weather dependent!) stargazing. You can find a list of all our talks this season here.

What happens at a public open evening?

Doors open at 6:30pm, and an astronomer will present a half-hour public talk, starting at 7.15pm. This is followed by an opportunity to look through the historical Northumberland and Thorrowgood telescopes if the weather is clear. Members of the Cambridge Astronomical Association also set up modern telescopes on the observatory lawns, with video projection facilities and expert commentary. We can't always guarantee observing, of course, as it is very weather-dependent. On a cloudy evening, the talk will instead be followed by tea and biscuits, and some short entertainment from the CAA.

Seating in the lecture theatre is available on a first-come, first-seated basis - if it's full, we'll do our best to seat you in an overspill room, where the talk will be live-streamed. We also stream our public talks live to the web (click here for the streaming link), and also archive the recordings for later viewing.
If you wish to skip the talk and only attend the observing, please arrive at 7.45pm (don't arrive before this, as we'll be still setting up!).

For more information about the talks done each Wednesday go to this link

The CAA team will give you a guided tour of the night sky, picking out a number of objects of interest via the array of telescopes which all link up to the large screens so that everyone in attendance can see at once.

We will have a selection of telescopes with different types of cameras linked up to stream detailed views of the moon and planets.


Along with several wider fields-of-view idea for seeking out Galaxies, Star Clusters and Nebulae.


In the event of cloud, we may give a short talk or planetarium style show of what we would have chased down for you if it had been clear!

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