Custer Institute & Observatory, Southold

#7 of 8 in Museums in North Fork
Observatory · Hidden Gem · Museum
'' 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.
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  • Actually bought really sweet honey from this place to help with their funds. It's amazingly informative, cute, & romantic as both hubby & I got to see Venus. All while my electric car charged in...  more »
  • 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 »
  • 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.

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