The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York hosts observing sessions, free and open to the public, one Friday night each month from April through October at Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan. Carl Schurz Park is located along East End Avenue at the end of East 86th Street. The park has a lovely view of a lot of sky above the East River, Roosevelt Island, Queens, and the Queensborough and Triborough bridges.
We meet on the park esplanade (John Finley Walk), overlooking the East River. The 86th Street entrance to the park is the closest to where we set up, though that entrance requires climbing stairs to reach the esplanade. One may enter the park at many other points, including 87th or 88th streets, thereby avoiding the stairs.
We encourage anyone wishing to bring a telescope or binoculars to do so, but it is not required. You are more than welcome to look through ours.
Contact Bruce Kamiat, 212-923-7021, for more information about the Carl Schurz Park sessions.
Please note that solar observing now takes place on Sunday afternoons at Conservatory Water in Central Park and on Tuesdays on the High Line. We also have solar observing sessions in the Bronx on Saturdays. Please see the vertical bar on the left side of this page for more details.
2015 Observing Dates
(Canceled if weather forecasts are for cloudy skies.
Cancellations will be posted on this Web page.
Cancellations may be posted as late as 4 p.m. on the day of the event,
so please check here to be sure the event is on.)
See below for times of sunset
and starting times of these events
All times on this schedule are Eastern Daylight Time
April 24 — Starting at 8:00 p.m.
The Sun sets at 7:44 p.m.
The waxing crescent Moon is one night before first quarter.
Venus and Jupiter are in the evening sky. Jupiter is high up and very bright, brighter than any star, near the Beehive Star Cluster.
The Big Dipper and Leo are almost directly overhead. Bright Arcturus is to their east. The twins of Gemini are high in the western sky and bright Capella to their northwest.
Saturday, April 25, will be International Astronomy Day.
May 22 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.
The Sun sets at 8:12 p.m.
The waxing crescent Moon is three nights before first quarter.
Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky. Jupiter is high up and very bright, still brighter than any star, near the Beehive Star Cluster. The Moon is approaching conjunction with Jupiter Saturday night. Saturn is at opposition tonight at 10 p.m., so it is at its brightest for the year and rises at sunset.
The Big Dipper, Leo and bright Arcturus are almost directly overhead. Gemini is in the western sky and bright Capella is to the northwest. The Summer Triangle, with bright Vega, is rising in the northeast.
June 26 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.
The Sun sets at 8:31 p.m.
The waxing gibbous Moon is three nights past first quarter and five nights before full. So it displays about a ¾ disk. It is well up in the sky at sunset, having risen during the afternoon.
Venus and Jupiter are close enough together to fit within a binocular field of view. The question is how long they will be visible from Carl Schurz before they set behind the buildings of Manhattan’s East Side. They will grow even closer over the next few nights and will fit within a telescopic field for a couple of days next week. Saturn is high and bright in the sky to the south.
The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair is already high in the east. The Big Dipper and bright Arcturus are high overhead.
July 24 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.
The Sun sets at 8:19 p.m.
The slightly gibbous Moon is one night past first quarter.
Venus is very bright, now a big, distinct, but thinning crescent. It was at its brightest two weeks ago. Saturn is high in the evening sky.
The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair approaches the zenith. The Big Dipper and bright Arcturus are high overhead to their west, descending as the evening progresses. Pegasus and Andromeda rise in the northeast.
August 28 — Starting at 8:00 p.m.
The Sun sets at 7:35 p.m.
The gibbous Moon is one night before full.
We may cut the nearly full Moon’s intense light with a filter, to observe it telescopically without being dazzled by the glare. Full Moon is the best time to see the bright raylike patterns that cross the Moon’s surface. Those radiating lines and splash patterns surrounding young craters are made up of the debris that was hurled out of the craters by the explosive impacts that formed them. As the Moon is not quite full, detail is popped out by highlights and shadows along the terminator—the line between the Moon’s day and night—which we are seeing at a low angle.
Saturn is in the western sky, one week past quadrature. This is a good time to see the shadow cast by the planet against the background rings.
The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair crosses the zenith during the evening. The Big Dipper and bright Arcturus are descending to the west. Pegasus rises in the east, climbing into the evening sky—bringing with it Andromeda and its Great Galaxy, M31. The Moon this night is too bright for viewing faint objects such as galaxies, though.
September 18 — Starting at 8:00 p.m.
The Sun sets at 7:00 p.m.
The waxing crescent Moon is two nights before first quarter.
The Moon and Saturn are very close together on the sky, within a binocular field of view. But they set behind the buildings of Manhattan’s East Side during the evening as seen from Carl Schurz Park.
The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair is high overhead. The Big Dipper and bright Arcturus are low in the northwest. Pegasus and Andromeda are high in the east. This may be a good night for the Great Galaxy in Andromeda, M31. The Double Cluster, the α Persei Association, the Pleiades, and other star clusters and deep-sky objects may be viewable. Carl Schurz Park is not a dark-sky site, though, so some of these may be challenging even after the Moon leaves the sky.
Saturday, September 19, will be International Astronomy Day.
Full Moon this month will be on the night of Sunday, September 27, and will occur in the middle of a total lunar eclipse. It will also be what the media like to call a “supermoon.” That is to say that it will occur just after the closest lunar perigee for the year (perigee will actually be just minutes before totality begins), so its apparent size will be larger than usual. Expect a lot of media hype for this.
October 23 — Starting at 7:00 p.m.
The Sun sets at 6:04 p.m.
The waxing gibbous Moon is three nights past first quarter. It will be full in three more nights, on Tuesday morning.
No bright planets are visible to us in the evening sky from Carl Schurz Park, though there is quite a display in the morning sky, where Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are putting on a show.
The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair is moving down the western evening sky. Pegasus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia are very high in the eastern sky as we begin, and directly overhead by mid evening. Relatively bright star clusters such as the Double Cluster, the α Persei Association, the Pleiades, and the Hyades should be viewable despite the bright moonlight.
Carl Schurz Park is located at the end of East 86th Street in Manhattan (X on the map below).
- Take the Lexington Avenue express (4 or 5) or local (6) to 86th Street. Walk east or take the M86 crosstown bus to York Avenue. The park is one block farther east.
- Take the Broadway local (1 or 9), Sixth Avenue local (B), or Eighth Avenue local (C) to 86th Street. Take the M86 crosstown bus to York Avenue. The park is one block farther east.
- Crosstown: The M86 runs along 86th Street to York Avenue. Walk one block farther east to East End Avenue. The M79 runs on 81st Street on the West Side and 79th Street on the East Side. Take it to East End Avenue and walk uptown.
- Up or downtown: Buses run uptown along First (M15), Third (M101, M102, and M103), and Madison (M1, M2, M3, and M4) avenues. Go to 86th Street and walk or take the M86 crosstown east, as above. Buses run downtown along Second (M15), Lexington (M101, M102, and M103), and Fifth (M1, M2, M3, and M4) avenues. Go to 86th Street and walk or take the M86 crosstown east, as above.