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The Custer Institute Announces Fall Events

Originally Posted: September 30, 2009

The Custer Institute in Southold was established in 1927. This view shows the building/dome from the south side. Images courtesy of the Custer Institute

Southold - The Custer Institute (est. 1927) has announced their upcoming events for the Fall, including music and dance performances, in addition to planet gazing and listening activities.

Friday, October 2, Open Mic Night
To be held the first Friday of every month from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Are you a professional performer or interested in becoming one? This is a great opportunity for the pros to show the newbies how to do it, and for all you musicians, comics, poets, magicians and storytellers to learn, let loose and get experience in front of a live audience. Everyone else - come and see the stars of today and tomorrow! Hosted by talented singer and songwriter, Liza Coppola. Suggested donation Free (although donations to support the programs would be most welcomed).

Saturday, October 3, Allegri String Trio With Wendy Fogel
A special evening of classical strings at 8 p.m. The program includes Franz Schubert (Trio No. 1 in B flat, D898), Mozart (Divertimento in E flat, K563), Richard Strauss (Variationen uber's "Deandl is harb auf mi," 1882), Ernst von Dohnanyi (Serenade in C Major, Opus 10). Suggested donation: $10 Members, $12 Non-Members, $8 Students.

Saturday, October 10, Listening To Jupiter: A Lecture and Live Demonstration
After the accidental discovery of radio bursts from Jupiter, scientists sought to understand the radio emissions. They collected radio data, compared it with other information about the planet, and began to match Jupiter's radio bursts with the planet's rotation. The observers realized that whether we hear Jupiter or not depends a lot on what part of the planet is facing us at the time. It seems there are special longitudes where Jupiter is much more likely to be heard than others; the
longitudes are like "landmarks" on a planet with no observable surface. In addition to the lecture on how the giant planet Jupiter is beaming mysterious signals from a distance of 365 million miles, there will be a "live" demonstration so those present can hear Jupiter themselves! Presenter: Ron Milione, Ph.D., is a Lead Engineer for Goodrich Systems, an active Ham Radio operator - W2TAP (Extra Class), and an adjunct professor at Hunter Business School, teaching computer science and active in the robotics program. Suggested Donation: $10 Members, $13 Non-Members, $5 Students, at 7 p.m.

Jupiter will be the focus of a lecture and demonstration on October 10. Photo by Steve Orlando

Saturday, October 17, Music And Storytelling By Johnny Cuomo
This interactive program will introduce you to stories from around the world, as well as traditional American and Native American folktales. Set to music, these tales unfold to bring a unique cultural and musical experience to children of all ages. Suggested Donation: $10 Members, $12, Non-Members, $5 Children. Note: Admission to this event includes the concert that follows (no additional charge), at 5 p.m.

Saturday, October 17, Johnny Cuomo In Concert
Native Long Islander and international musician, author and storyteller, Johnny Cuomo, is a folk-flavored acoustic roots artist with influences in rock and traditional Irish music, which he plays on a variety of contemporary and traditional instruments. Formerly lead singer for folk-rock band, Voice of the Turtle, he has since played solo across the U.S. and Ireland, opening for such bands as the Ramones and The Bogmen. Suggested Donation: $10 Members, $12 Non-Members, $8 Students, at 6 p.m.

Saturday, October 24, Orionid Meteor Shower Party
Weather permitting. The meteors from this shower originate from Halley's Comet and seem to radiate from the constellation Orion. The shower extends from October 2 to November 7 and peaks on October 21 through October 22. It averages about 30 meteors per hour. The moon is only one-third full so observers should still be able to see some Orionids streaking across the night sky. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and join in on nature's wonderful sky show. Suggested Donation: $5 Non-Members, $3 Children, free for Members, at 8 p.m.

Four planets could be visible on November 14. Image courtesy of JPL/NASA

Friday, October 30, Members' Night: Last Night Of Every Month
A Members-Only (and their guests) evening for mingling, observing, enjoying the observatory and its resources, discussing Custer's present and planning its future together. Senior Observatory Staffer, Justine Haupt, will discuss her trip to Arizona to work on the LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope). Coordinator: David Van Popering. Admission free for members and their guests, at 7 p.m.

Saturday, November 7, How To Use Your Telescope
Is there a telescope gathering dust in the closet because you don't know how to use it? Perhaps you have been using your telescope but it doesn't seem to be working quite right and you're asking yourself: "Is it me or the equipment?" Or maybe you'd like to buy a telescope and want to know what to consider before making the purchase. This lecture and workshop will provide all the answers. You'll learn all you ever wanted to know about telescopes and receive practical information that will help you get set up and observing. After the lecture, there will be an opportunity for you to receive hands-on help from the instructor and Custer's Observatory Staff so bring your equipment with you. Instructor Jeff Norwood is a veteran amateur astronomer, telescope mechanic, and owner of Camera Concepts in Patchogue. Suggested Donation: $10 Custer Members; $15 Non-Members; $5 Full-time students with ID, 8 p.m to 10 p.m.

Sol Y Sombra will perform on November 21.

Saturday, November 14, Night Of The Planets Party
Weather permitting. Four planets will be visible on this new moon night: Uranus will be up all evening until after 12 midnight, Jupiter from about 8 p.m. (sets at 10:44
p.m.), Neptune from 8 p.m. (sets at 11:10 p.m.), and Mars rises at 10:03 p.m. So join in and spend the night viewing planetary neighbors through Custer's large telescopes. Suggested Donation: $5 Non-Members, $3 Children, free for Members, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, November 17, Leonid Meteor Shower Party
Weather permitting. The meteors from this shower originate from Comet Temple-Tuttle and seem to radiate from the constellation Leo. The shower extends from November 10 through November 21 and peaks on November 17 through November 18. This is a strong shower that can yield 100 meteors per hour. Since it is also a new moon so the viewing should be great. So bundle up, bring a blanket and join in for a spectacular sky show! Suggested Donation: $5 Non-Members, $3 Children, free for Members, at 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 21, Sol Y Sombra: Music And Dance Performance
You will experience the fiery passion and romance of traditional Spanish music and Flamenco dance in this special performance by the costumed dancers, guitarist and singers of Sol Y Sombra, a professional company established nearly 20 years ago (under the artistic direction of Maria Loreta) to promote the art of traditional Spanish music and dance. Absolutely not to be missed! Reservations suggested. Contact CusterDonna@yahoo.com. Suggested Donation: $15, at 8 p.m.

East End Brass to perform at holiday party.

Saturday, December 5 Holiday Party And Concert By East End Brass Ensemble

Saturday, December 12 Geminid Meteor Shower Party
Thursday, December 31 New Year's Eve Under the Stars with music by Ahmad Ali and Friends First Fridays: Open Mic Night with Liza Coppola, Last Fridays: Members' Night, at 8 p.m.

Every Saturday evening, from dusk until 12 midnight, Custer Institute is open to the general public. Staff provide guided tours of the sky (weather permitting) via laser pointers and powerful telescopes, and are more than happy to answer questions. Group visits by classes, scouts, and others are welcome (contact CusterDonna@yahoo.com to arrange). The facilities are also available for private functions.

About Custer Institute
The Custer Institute began in the 1920s in a house on Cedar Beach owned by Charles Elmer and his wife, May Custer Elmer (niece of Gen. George Custer). A group of amateur astronomers met regularly at the Elmer house, and used a mechanism by which telescopes and cameras could track the movement of the stars to create some of the finest astrophotographs of the era. The club purchased the land at its present location and erected the first building in 1937. Founders Charles Elmer and Richard Perkin formed a company that produced the finest optical equipment in the U.S., including the Hubble's mirror. Over time, the Custer Institute continued to grow and its reputation spread far beyond the North Fork. Custer has a long tradition of providing educational service to the community and in 2007 the Education Through Research program was started, giving students an opportunity to work alongside active scientists.

Observatory Director, Dr. Jeffrey Owen Katz, standing next to the telescope in the dome, which is a 25" Obsession on loan from Suffolk County Community College. It's the largest telescope in a public observatory on Long Island. Photo by Cliff Chiesa

There are numerous lectures, classes and workshops throughout the year taught by Custer's distinguished members, and by other local academicians and scientists. The Institute supports the arts through its Music Project and art exhibits. Such activities are in keeping with Custer's foremost motto: "For the curious." It is a place where the questioning mind can exercise, be challenged, learn, share, and find camaraderie.

Custer's Equipment
In April 2006, the original wooden dome was replaced with a new 22-inch galvanized steel one. The dome houses the largest telescope in a public observatory on Long Island: a 25-foot f/5 Obsession Dobsonian telescope (on loan from Suffolk County Community College), which was retrofit with ServoCat electronics and goto capability; its revolutionary new optics, which bring the eyepiece down to eye level, were designed by Senior Observatory Staff Members, Dr. Jeffrey Owen Katz and Justine Haupt. The three bay, street level observatory contains an 8-inch Celestron (automated for remote access), a 14-inch Celestron (automated and used for CCD imaging with a research-grade camera donated by SBIG), and a 10-foot binocular telescope built by Custer Board Member, Alarico Verticchio. An 11-inch Celestron has been dedicated for hands-on use by the public. The observatory is equipped for radio astronomy, a growing array of dishes, and instrumentation for studies of cosmic rays and other celestial phenomena. Other scopes in active use include a 10-inch and 13.5-inch Odyssey Dobsonians. Custer serves as home to the observatories of two of Long Island's oldest astronomy clubs: the Astronomical Society of Long Island (facilities contain a 14-inch Meade LX200 awarded to Custer by David Levy's National Sharing the Sky Foundation), and the Amateur Observers' Society (housing a 14-inch Celestron).

The Custer Institute has a collection of antique telescopes and equipment, including two Alvin Clarks, an Eichner, Fitz tubes, a speculum mirror, an original Fitz grinding table, and a fully equipped mirror grinding workshop.

The Custer Institute is a 501(c)(3) New York State educational non-profit that operates exclusively on public support (proceeds from events, dues, and
small donations); it has no endowment. It is staffed by volunteers dedicated to advancing Custer's educational, cultural and research goals, and its service to the community. In addition to the reward of supporting this unique organization, Members also enjoy email subscription to our newsletter, library privileges; discounts on classes, lectures, and other events; invitations to members-only events; voting privileges; access to the facilities; special training programs; opportunity to become an Observatory Staff Member.

Dues are $45 Individuals; $60 Family; $25 Seniors/Students; $100 Sponsor; $250 Benefactor; $500 Patron; $1,000 Corporate Sponsor.

The Custer Institute is located at 1115 Main Bayview Road (South of Route 25), P.O. Box 1204, Southold, New York 11971; 631-765-2626, or www.CusterObservatory.org, or contact CusterDonna@yahoo.com.

Musical performances are, in part, made possible by grants from the Suffolk County Community Arts Regrant Program and the NYS Council for the Arts.

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