Events for the Public

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics sponsors a variety of free programs for the public. Among these events are Observatory Nights held on the third Thursday of the month (excluding June, July and August). Observatory Nights feature a nontechnical lecture and telescopic observing from the observatory roof if weather permits. The lectures are intended for high-school age and older audiences but children are also welcome. We also sponsor a variety of other special observing events throughout the year. Admission is free and seating is first-come, first-served.

These events--unless otherwise noted--are held in Phillips Auditorium (at the rear of the CfA complex near Madison Street and large parking lot), 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, about 1 mile west of Harvard Square. Parking lots marked for Observatory Staff are open to the public on event nights. Parking is free.

The Observatory does not host private events.

CETU poster
Special Event
Sunday, April 22, 2018
12:00 - 4:00 pm: Cambridge Explores the Universe

Become an astronomer for a day! Enjoy exploration stations that include hands-on activities, telescope tours, solar observing, a tech hub, and even visit our historic photographic plate stacks! There's also a chance to ask our experts all of your burning questions about space and the universe at our "Ask an Astronomer" tables. Don't miss this opportunity to find out the latest discoveries about the sun, exoplanets, black holes, and more! This event is presented as part of the Cambridge Science Festival and is perfect for all ages! (View event flyer here.)

astronomy day image
Special Event
Sunday, April 22, 2018
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Astronomy Day Star Party

Join a star party in honor of Astronomy Day! Rooftop viewing through telescopes. See the Moon, Venus, double stars, star clusters, and more! This event is weather dependent; visit to check for cancellation. Cost: Free. Drop-In.

Monthly Observatory Night
Thursday, May 17, 2018
7:30 pm: Extreme Spacecrafting: NASA's Parker Solar Probe
Tony Case, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Solar Probe Cup Instrument Scientist, and Kelly Korreck, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Science Operations Lead for SWEAP Instrument Suite aboard Parker Solar Probe

In July 2018, NASA will launch a satellite 60 years in the making. The hottest mission under the Sun will visit - the Sun! It is an extreme mission - the fastest human-made object that will travel closest to the Sun at the hottest operating temperatures in history. Learn what went into building this satellite with Dr. Kelly Korreck, who will describe the strange Sun behavior that this mission aims to explain, and Dr. Tony Case, who will discuss the bravest instrument on board that peeks around the spacecraft's protective sun shade: the Solar Probe Cup.