Welcome to the Custer Institute

The Custer Institute and Observatory is Long Island's oldest public observatory (est.1927). Open to the public every Saturday evening from dark until midnight, our staff of volunteers will give you a tour of the facilities and the night sky through our powerful telescopes. Custer has frequent lectures, classes,concerts, art exhibits and other special events. Consider our observatory for your next meeting or theme party.

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36th Annual Jamboree!

As the days get warmer, the night comes later. This time of the year it doesn't really get dark for observing until 9PM.  See you then!


Steve Bellavia took this photo of the Western Veil Nebula (Witch's Broom)
NGC 6960, Caldwell 34, in Mattituck, NY, August 29th, 2014


  • Outside air temperature: 63 degrees F. Very dry, NorthWest wind Target was after the meridian, started at 75 degrrees altitude, finished at 60 degree altitude.
  • Camera: Canon EOS T3
  • Scope: Astronomics 6-inch f/4 Imaging Newtonian (with EZ-Finder Deluxe reflex finder to approximately locate object and then did 30 second at ISO 6400 trial-and-error/slewing, until found object and then centered it). Baader multi-purpose Coma corrector. (no change in focal length). This gives an image scale of 112 x 75 arc-minutes.
  • Mount: A Celestron CG5/CGEM (No computer or guidescope capability)
  • Total of 41, 90-second exposures, ISO 3200 (1/2 max for that camera)
  • 8 dark frames, No bias frames.
The Western Veil, NGC 6960, is also known as the "Witch's Broom", "Finger of God" and the "Filamentary Nebula", is a portion of the larger Veil Nebula, a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus. It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop (radio source W78, or Sharpless 103), a large but relatively faint supernova remnant. The source supernova exploded some 5,000 to 8,000 years ago, and the remnants have since expanded to cover an area roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, or 36 times the area, of the full moon). The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, but Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) data supports a distance of about 1,470 light-years. The bright foreground star is 52 Cygni.

36th Annual Jamboree!

FRIDAY EVENING programs, October 17th to be held at CUSTER INSTITUTE

SATURDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON, programs October 18ᵗͪ to be held at
Suffolk County Community College, Eastern Campus, Shinnecock Building

SATURDAY EVENING (5:30PM) events move to CUSTER INSTITUTE where will have dinner, a talk on Habitable Planets with Frederick Walter, PhD, and a night of observing.

SUNDAY MORNING programs, October 19th to be held at CUSTER INSTITUTE


Weather Permitting:

Saturday Night Observing, open to public, dark to midnight, weather permitting Staff provide guided tours of the sky. Clouds, fog, rain, and full moon nights are not good nights. The less moon, the better for most observing. Check the moon calendar. Plan your visit by reading this.



Updated: 09-02-14
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