September 7 update: Mees Observatory summer tours have ended, and the observatory is now in the capable hands of students doing course work and research. Reservations for 2014 tours can be made starting April 1, 2014, so check back then. In the meantime, be sure to look at what's happening at the Strasenburgh Planetarium telescope, which is open nearly every clear Saturday evening except for the most wintry evenings. Also the local astronomy club holds open houses at the beautiful Farash Center for Observational Astronomy in Ionia, just 20 minutes from Mees.
As for the Mees summer tours, see the general information below. Be sure to note that some tours are designated "kids' tours". Those offer a special program geared to our younger visitors, asking them to solve some challenges. The format for the Regular Tours (primarily designed for adult visitors but kids are welcome, of course) offers more presentation and discussion, but fewer challenges. The climax of every tour is (we hope!) viewing of several of the skies most interesting objects in the 24" reflecting telescope.
As always we will host a small number of groups and a much greater number of families and individuals, so that this opportunity is offered as broadly as possible across the local community. Groups larger than 8 require special permission, so be sure to contact tours director Carol Latta (firstname.lastname@example.org) for that permission BEFORE placing your reservation.
General Information about tours:
University of Rochester Department of Physics and Astronomy is pleased to offer free tours for the public at Mees Observatory in the Bristol Hills on selected Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer months. All tours are held regardless of sky conditions, and begin at 8PM at Gannett House on the observatory grounds. After getting acquainted, we'll present a talk on astronomy in general and on what we may be observing later in the evening. If weather and skies permit, we'll proceed to the observatory dome and operate the 24" reflecting telescope to observe the Moon, Saturn, double stars, nebulae, star clusters, and maybe even a galaxy or two. Tours typically end around 11PM (if observing is possible) or whenever our guests have had their fill of photons. A special version of the tours, appropriate for kids, is offered on some evenings, and these are indicated as such on the tours calendar.
Tour guides are physics/astronomy students and members of Rochester's astronomy club, the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science.
Use the menu link above to see the Tour Calendar, select the correct month and day, click on the checkmark or clock icon, and make a reservation for your tour. Be sure to indicate the number of people in your reservation, and to continue all the way to the bottom of the page to click "save". GROUPS LARGER THAN 8 REQUIRE SPECIAL PERMISSION - see above. No "User ID" is required.
For driving directions using Mapquest or a similar site, use this address: CE Kenneth Mees Observatory, 6604 S. Gannett Rd, Naples, NY 14512.
Day tours may be possible for interested groups. (Contact the Tours Director).
Instructions about the tour can be found here.
There are many other opportunities to do astronomical observing in the Rochester area. Rochester's astronomy club, The Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science (ASRAS), offers free public star parties in all but the coldest months; these are usually held at Mendon and Northampton Parks. ASRAS members also operate the telescope at Strasenburgh Planetarium's observatory on nearly all clear Saturday evenings, year round. Monthly Open Houses at the Farash Center for Observational Astronomy in Ionia offer yet more opportunities for exploring the various observatories and looking through a variety of telescopes. Join us for any of these free events. To learn more about these and other opportunities, go to www.rochesterastronomy.org.
For more information, contact the Mees Observatory Tours Director, Carol Latta