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Public Events

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) hosts a variety of free programs for the public. Among these events are Observatory Nights, sponsored by the Harvard College Observatory, which feature a nontechnical lecture and telescopic observing from the observatory roof, if the weather permits. These lectures are intended for high-school age and older audiences but children are also welcome.  Admission is free; however, tickets are limited and seating is on a first-come basis.  These events are held in Phillips Auditorium, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, about one mile west of Harvard Square. Parking lots marked for Observatory staff are open to the public on event nights. Parking is free.

For more information, including accessibility, or to sign up for our events mailing list, please email

SOLD OUT! Observatory Night: Jupiter: Celestial Majesty, Cosmic Guardian

First Talk: Zachary Murray, "How the Giant Planets Sculpted the Solar System"
Second Talk: Philippe Reekie, "Could the Moons of Jupiter Support Extraterrestrial Life?"
Monday, February 26 | 6:30 pm ET


Jupiter, the colossal gas giant, captivates with its iconic Great Red Spot and dynamic storms. As a cosmic guardian, its gravity protects inner planets, fostering life on Earth. Beyond its awe-inspiring features, Jupiter hosts a diverse family of moons, each with its own mysteries, adding to the planet's celestial allure.

Embark on an evening with two captivating talks centered around Jupiter, followed by the opportunity to observe the gas giant and other cosmic wonders through high-powered telescopes. Let our team of astronomers guide you through this celestial journey.

Register here for this event.

Observatory Night: Stars: Illuminating the Depths of Cosmic Splendor

First Talk: TBD (star expert)
Second Talk: TBD (star expert)
Thursday, March 28 | 7:00 pm ET


Born from vast clouds of gas and dust, stars embark on a fascinating life cycle, evolving from brilliant birth to fiery demise. As these stellar furnaces forge elements, they seed the cosmos with stardust, the very essence from which we arise. Our connection to the stars is profound—we are all made of stardust, a testament to the universal magic woven into the fabric of our existence.

Embark on an evening with two captivating talks delving into the mesmerizing world of stars. Following discussions, elevate your experience with rooftop stargazing using powerful telescopes, expertly guided by our team of astronomers.

Register here for this event.

Observatory Night: Black Holes: Beyond Cosmic Shadows

First Talk: Angelo Ricarte, "Imaging Black Holes with the Event Horizon Telescope and Beyond"
Second Talk: TBD (black hole expert)
Thursday, April 25 | 7:30 pm ET

black hole

Step into the cosmic unknown as black holes beckon, where gravity's grip is relentless and time itself dances on the edge of oblivion. These enigmatic entities, cloaked in darkness, conceal the universe's most profound secrets. Venture beyond the event horizon, where reality warps, and the mysteries of space and time intertwine. Black holes, the celestial gatekeepers of the cosmos, invite you on a journey into the heart of darkness, where the secrets of our universe await revelation.

Embark on an enchanting evening featuring two captivating talks on the mysterious realms of black holes. Following the discussions, seize the opportunity to peer into galaxies and deep space through our high-powered telescopes. Allow our team of skilled astronomers to expertly guide you on this celestial journey, unlocking the wonders of the cosmos.

Register here for this event.



Enjoy our catalog of previous Public Observatory Nights at our YouTube channel, including this featured presentation on NASA's Parker Solar Probe.