Public Observing

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers free viewing through their campus astronomical telescopes to all Dartmouth students and to the public. The public viewing nights are usually offered only during the school terms. Observing of the Moon, planets and stars is available on Friday nights.  See below for the observing schedule and the objects currently being observed.


Public observing occurs in the the building on the right in the above image, which is a small white shed behind the historical Shattuck Observatory. Observing is only possible under good weather conditions, meaning mostly clear skies with little chance of rain or snow. If the weather is questionable, call (603) 646-9100 and select option 2 to find out the current status of an observing session. Selecting option 1 will give dates and times for the current term.

Shattuck Observatory is the oldest scientific building on campus. Many astronomy classes use Dartmouth's observing resources. For the astronomical research carried out by the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Dartmouth owns a share of the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, the 11-meter Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), as well as the MDM Observatory, consisting of 1.3 and 2.4 meter telescopes, on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

In addition to SALT and MDM, Dartmouth astronomers, faculty, and students make use of many more of the world's leading space- and ground-based observational facilities, including the HubbleSpitzer, and Herschelspace observatories, ChandraXMM-NewtonNuSTAR, and Suzaku X-ray satellites, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey ExplorerW.M. Keck ObservatoryMMT Observatory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, as well as being involved in the planning of upcoming and proposed missions.

Current Schedule

  • Public Observing for the fall term will start September 16th and end November 11th from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

To find out if a session is on for a given Friday, please call 646-9100.

This Week

As of 9/14/16, observing will likely be held on Friday, 9/16/16 with a current forecast of clear/partly cloudy.  If after 5:00 pm on Friday, please call 603-646-9100 for a final update. Possible objects to view that week include:  


  • Mizar & Alcor - Sextuple system
  • M13 - Hercules Globular Cluster


  • M31 - Andromeda


  • M27 - Dumbbell Nebula


Directions and Parking

Traveling along East Wheelock Street toward the Dartmouth Green, take the first right after Alumni Gym (on left) onto Observatory Road.

Traveling along West Wheelock Street toward the Dartmouth Green, take the second left after the Hanover Inn onto Observatory Road.

From either direction: Once on Observatory Road, go up the hill and through one intersection. The Observatory is on the right as you reach the top of the hill.

Click here for a map. Public observing uses the North Telescope. 

You may park anywhere in the nearby parking lots during observing hours. Please do not park in the small dirt lot just behind the Observatory.