NYC’s first public observatory is coming to The Bronx

Budding astronomers and stargazers from The Bronx rejoice: New York City’s FIRST public observatory is set to come to the mainland borough this year.

After serving students at Nassau Community College on Long Island for over 40 years, the 12 foot tall structure is seeking a new home as it has been retired due to renovations at the school and installation of newer equipment.

The 12 foot observatory will soon call The Bronx home/Via Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Now, thanks to the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, Nassau’s loss will be The Bronx’s gain as the group has approached the New York City Parks Department to host the observatory at the Jerome Park Reservoir.

The plan for the observatory, which is capable of peering far beyond 2.5 million lightyears and beyond the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way’s nearest large neighboring galaxy, is to be run in conjunction with Bronx High School of Science whose campus is just around the corner from the proposed location.

Once in operation, the observatory would be open to the public free of charge, offering Bronx residents (or anyone for that matter) an opportunity to reach for the stars.

But, in order to undertake such an ambitious project to relocate this observatory to The Bronx the AAA is seeking to raise $10,000 and have raised $2,000 so far. (If you want to donate, you can do so here.)

AAA is hoping that Jerome Park Reservoir will be the home of NYC’s first public observatory / Via Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Right now, as of May 28th, the dome is currently at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island and the Observatory Working Group is working to obtain the necessary Parks construction permits in order to bring the dome to its new home at Jerome Park.

It’s fitting that The Bronx is set to become the home of New York City’s first public observatory given that the northernmost borough was the home of Neil deGrasse Tyson who, for the past 26 years has been serving as the director for the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space which is part of the American Museum of Natural History and is also a graduate of Bronx High School of Science.

Tyson is also perhaps one of the most famous names and faces in astronomy and astrophysicists in the world.

Another Bronx connection to astronomy, but perhaps not as well known to the general public, is Carolyn C. Porco, a Bronx native who graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School and went on to become of the foremost experts on the outer planets with particular emphasis on Saturn and planetary rings.

According to Gothamist, “Over nearly 200 years, several stargazers have tried and failed to set up the city’s first public observatory, according to the International Planetarium Society. The closest alternatives are at Columbia University and various City University of New York campuses, including one shuttered on top of Ingersoll Hall at Brooklyn College. All of which are prioritized for their students.”

Once it’s up and running in, perhaps the next, great astrophysicist will be a kid from The Bronx inspired by staring deep into space from right here within the borough.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.