The CSI Astrophysical Observatory, the largest publicly accessible observatory in New York City, was for decades a busy facility that welcomed hundreds of students and visitors each year to view the night sky and the wonders of the universe. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the College to close the Observatory, but on March 19, CSI will host two events, one during College club hours and one in the evening after sunset, that will see visitors learn more and access the Observatory.

The two-part event, “Reaching for the Stars,” will feature what promises to be a gorgeous day/night of stargazing that should feature a bright waxing Moon, the Orion Nebula and its gaseous star-birthing region, and the planet Jupiter with its four easily visible Galilean moons. These celestial targets, together with a preview of the total solar eclipse passing through New York State on April 8, will form the basis of this program presented to students, faculty, administrators, and members of the community.

“We are excited to continue a long tradition of bringing together students, faculty, staff, and Staten Island community members for a night of star gazing,” said Ralf Peetz, Professor and Dean of Science and Technology at CSI.

The daylight portion of the event will take place in CSI’s Center for the Arts (1P-Recital Hall), and will feature remarks from CSI Provost Michael Steiper before words from Emeritus Associate Professor Irving Robbins, the Observatory’s founding director and a symbol of the CSI Observatory’s long history. Dr. Charles Liu will also present a brief documentary on the history of the Observatory and a presentation of his book, The Cosmos Explained: A History of the Universe from its Beginning to Today and Beyond.

The evening session will take place in CSI’s Green Dolphin Lounge (1C), where participants will get a chance to visit tables to learn about Physics and Astronomy majors and careers, and after the sessions, small groups of students will leave from the Green Dolphin Lounge to visit the Observatory, guided by Verrazzano School student volunteers.

While the other groups wait to visit and view the events occurring in the sky that evening, there will be a variety of activities and small discussions that attendees will participate in, including astronomy and physics-themed games with the winners receiving copies of Dr. Liu’s book.

The event is free and open to all, including CSI students and incoming first-year students, CSI alumni, high school students, and members of the community who are physics and astronomy enthusiasts.

For more information, call 718-982-4221 or email