Custer Institute & Observatory, Southold

4.9
#7 of 8 in Museums in North Fork
'' Custer Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Custer Institute. Located in Southold, New York (US), facing Peconic Bay and Shelter Island, Custer's location boasts some of the darkest skies on Long Island.
Long Island's oldest public observatory, Custer Institute was founded in 1927 by Charles Wesley Elmer (co-founder of the Perkin-Elmer Optical Company), along with a group of fellow amateur-astronomers. The name was adopted to honor the hospitality of Mrs. Elmer, the Grand Niece of General George Armstrong Custer. In 1942, the Custer Institute was incorporated as a non-profit educational corporation in the State of New York.
In 1938, the group purchased the land the institute presently occupies and initial construction was completed in the spring of 1939. The 100-seat lecture hall was added in 1945. In 1947, through donations by Charles Elmer and Mr. Polk, the 3-story tower/library and observatory dome were built. In 1954, Charles Elmer died; that same year, the Institute added the shed, which houses three sliding roof observatories. Over the years, Custer has acquired a large collection of telescopes of all sizes and descriptions. Most recently, this includes a 25-inch (f/5) Newtonian reflector, which is now the premier telescope in the newly-rebuilt dome.(Article not found) In order to bring the eyepiece of this telescope to a level that does not require observers to climb a high ladder, the optics on this telescope were modified by Custer's Research Director, Jeffrey Owen Katz, Ph.D., and Research Committee Member, Justine Haupt.
See Custer Institute & Observatory and all Southold has to offer by arranging your trip with our Southold trip planner.
Create an itinerary including Custer Institute & Observatory
map
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors
Custer Institute & Observatory Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5.0
9 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • The night I went there was no moon, so enhanced viewing. There was a longish line, however, and time looking through the observatory telescope was quite limited. Otherwise, worth the trip.  more »
  • Custer Institute is out of the ordinary. It is open to the public on Saturday nights after dark. The area around it is very dark so the viewing is excellent. All the staff are volunteers who love to.....  more »
Google
  • Amazing place right on Long Island. You can see the beauty of a dark sky less than a few hours from the city. The people there are super helpful and friendly. Great historical and educational place to bring the kids. The only issue is it needs to be a clear night but the views through the telescopes are truly amazing. In the summer, fireflies put on an incredible light show in the back field. Just remember to keep your headlights off when you arrive.
  • Nice people. Great live entertainment. Overall, a wonderful experience.

Plan your trip to Southold

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Popular things to do in Southold

4.9
Duration:1​h 30​min
4.4
Duration:1​h 30​min
4.7
Duration:2​h

Side trips from Southold

4.5
Duration:2​h 30​min
4.0
Duration:2​h
5.0
Duration:1​h 30​min

Hidden gems in Southold

4.2
Duration:2​h
4.2
Duration:2​h
4.3
Duration:1​h 30​min
3.8
Duration:2​h

Wineries in Southold

3.9
Duration:2​h
2.5
Duration:1​h 30​min

Kid-friendly things to do in Southold

3.8
Duration:2​h

Nearby attractions in Southold

4.8
Duration:2​h