For over 40 years the Darling Hill Observatory of the Syracuse Astronomical Society has been hosting thousands of children, teens, and adults to star parties on clear summer nights under the dark skies in the hamlet of Vesper in Tully, New York. Built in 1971 with funds generously provided by the Rosemond Gifford Foundation, the observatory is located on 7 acres of land at a rural location where we regularly show the public the wonders of the night sky. Our volunteer staff operates a nine-foot long telescope which delivers stunning views of the planets, the moon, galaxies, and star clusters which are all but invisible to city dwellers. Check out our public observing schedule, grab your binoculars and a warm jacket, and join us!
Our telescope is a Newtonian reflector on a German equatorial mount with a motorized clock drive. It has a 16″ diameter f/6 primary mirror, which yields magnifications of 61x when we use a 40mm eyepiece, and 188x when we use a 13mm eyepiece. It is mounted in the observatory building on a steel pier which is set deep in the ground. In the evening the entire roof of the observatory rolls off to open the telescope to the night sky. Our observing deck accommodates about two dozen people who can gather around the ‘scope to take turns looking at the objects which our staff locates. The rolling ladder is used to allow folks to get up to the level of the eyepiece to view the objects. As people observe the objects in the telescope, our staff will answer questions, and generally inform observers about the astronomical object in the eyepiece. Observers waiting on the observing deck for their turn at the telescope are encouraged to use binoculars to view astronomical objects. Our staff is always ready to help people find things of interest in the sky.
At The Observatory
In addition to the Society’s big telescope, many of our members own our own telescopes. On clear evenings at various times in the month, members often bring their own telescopes down to the observatory grounds to observe or photograph the stars. Our heated chart room is an excellent place to sit to review star charts and have a cup of coffee as we plan our observing sessions. Concrete pads on the grounds provide good stable platforms upon which we set up our own telescopes. We have electrical outlets for those telescopes that need power to run their clock drives, computers, and cameras. One of the nice things about our observatory is the camaraderie of the members as we help and advise one other with our observing projects. It is important to learn from books, but there is just no substitute for getting out under the night sky with fellow observers to develop practical hands-on experience stargazing with friends.