In-Depth Report

Civic Groups & Forums Summary

Patrick Chase
Aug 13 2021
New York is home to a diverse assemblage of space and astronomy groups in every corner of the state. Some are large, dynamic organizations that have existed for decades. Others are small local chapters still struggling to stay afloat. They offer a wide range of public programs and partner with science centers and universities across the state. From small towns in the North Country, to college campuses in Western NY, and the heart of Midtown Manhattan, thousands of New Yorkers fill the ranks of these organizations, joining together in their passion for exploring and understanding space.

Different types of organizations fall under the ‘space and astronomy group’ banner. Space groups are engaged in rocketry, space policy, and more NASA-centric work. Astronomy groups engage in classic stargazing and observational activities. Aerospace groups are focused primarily on the aerospace sector and are often linked with either industry or academia. All engage in educational and outreach activities, provide numerous contributions to their local communities, and share a large degree of overlap between their missions, activities, and membership.

The Empire Space Census for Civic Groups & Forums provides some basic information for every relevant group we have identified in the state, including links to the website, some basic information about events & membership, and some helpful data for those interested in state government. State legislators across the ideological and political spectrum from both chambers have active astronomy groups in their districts, demonstrating the universal and communal nature of space enthusiasm in New York.

These groups are the ‘grassroots’ of the New York space sector, where everyday people have an opportunity to learn more about space, pursue their passion for astronomy, and network with like minded individuals. This level of individual and community involvement is invaluable to a vibrant space sector, and we hope you too can find opportunities to get involved locally!

Empire Space is dedicated to enhancing the work of these groups, expanding their support system by fostering greater connectivity with other areas of the space sector and supporting their outreach efforts in their local communities. Collective networking and action will lead to enhanced programming, more outreach, and more opportunities for New Yorkers to get involved in space.

Below is a brief summary of the space and astronomy groups in each region of New York. Be sure to check this list regularly, as new additions and expanded information are in the works!

Long Island

Long Island has a proud aviation history, and is home to a number of active astronomy clubs with extensive offerings for the community.

The Custer Institute has operated since 1927, making it Long Island’s oldest public observatory. The affiliated astronomy club offers a wide range of events open to the public, including Saturday Night Observing, Members Nights with special projects, and even a Music Project!

The Astronomical Society of Long Island is affiliated with Vanderbilt Planetarium, located in Centerport. They hold weekly meetings, have an affinity for telescope making, and have a list of recommended Observing Guides.

The Amateur Observers' Society of New York was founded in 1965, and in addition to their numerous stargazing events, they are active in regional efforts to reduce light pollution. They hold monthly meetings, conduct stargazing sessions, and have an extensive membership package.

There is also an active AIAA Section on Long Island, with resources available for those specifically interested in the aerospace sector.

These groups have existing connections with a number of prominent Long Island universities, and there are a wealth of events for the public to participate in. Events include launch viewing parties, other watch parties, volunteering opportunities, workshops, talks from notable speakers, and project opportunities. There is a strong civic and community foundation for Long Island to grow its future role in the New York space sector.


Despite the intense light pollution that comes with living in New York City itself, there are a couple of high quality astronomy organizations active within city limits open to the public.

The Amateur Astronomers Association of NY was founded in 1927 and is a robust and dynamic organization with extensive opportunities for public participation. They publish the Eyepiece newsletter, maintain a full weekly calendar of classes and stargazing opportunities, and have a well developed school outreach program.

Bronx Science hosts one of the few planetariums in NYC and is one of the only high schools in the world with one on its campus. It’s student body has both a astronomy and aerospace clubs, and conducts events and programming with Columbia University.

Columbia University has extensive space and astronomy assets, and Columbia Astronomy Public Outreach hosts numerous public engagement opportunities. Their Events list is extensive, including a film series, stargazing, middle school programs, sidewalk astronomy, and podcasts.

Teachers in Space works to stimulate student interest in space and STEM by providing teachers with classroom resources and teacher workshops.

Even in the heart of one of the worlds’ greatest cities, there are still fantastic public space and astronomy resources available to New Yorkers of all ages.


The Mid-Hudson region is not only home to the majestic Hudson River, but also a number of active public astronomy clubs that enrich the community fabric of the entire region.

The Westchester Amateur Astronomers have been active for over 40 years. They host monthly star parties in Cross River, organize a lecture series, and publish a monthly n newsletter.

The Rockland Astronomy Club was founded in 1958 and is a well-established and prominent astronomy organization in the eastern US. Their mission is much more than stargazing, offering educational and engagement opportunities for beginners and passionate astronomy fans alike.

The Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association, based in New Paltz, boasts hundreds of members and offers a robust calendar of events in addition to monthly s star parties in Lake Taghkanic State Park.

With access to increasingly dark skies further from metro NYC, the Mid-Hudson region offers the public numerous high quality space and astronomy organizations.

Capital Region

The Capital Region is home to some top flight universities and observatories, in addition to the massive government presence centered in Albany.

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers are the primary astronomy organization in the region and are affiliated with the Dudley Observatory. Activities include star parties at various locations around the region, a monthly newsletter, discounts on astronomy publications, and loaner telescopes for those new to outdoor astronomy.

Residents of the Capital Region are able to enjoy high quality public astronomy and space resources due to these active and engaged organizations.

North Country

The North Country is home to some of the darkest skies in the state, pairing unrivaled views of the night sky with the beauty and serenity of miles of undisturbed nature.

The Adirondack Sky Center is the primary space and astronomy organization in the region, located in Tupper Lake. Home to an AstroScience Center, the organization also hosts virtual lectures, as well as various stargazing events.

Residents of the North Country not only are blessed with the best stargazing skies in the state, they also host a top-notch stargazing organization and facility.

Mohawk Valley

The Mohawk Valley is centered along the historic Erie Canal, with a series of small industrial towns surrounded by rolling hills, with Utica serving as the central urban hub for the region.

The Mohawk Valley is also home to the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society, which is affiliated with the Barton-Brown Observatory (located at the Waterville Public Library). They maintain a full calendar of events, including community observation nights and a virtual lecture series.

The Mohawk Valley possesses high quality space and astronomy assets for its citizens to enjoy, in addition to an accessible public Observatory.

Southern Tier

The Southern Tier is a largely rural region, home to rolling hills, numerous waterfalls and parks, as well as vibrant small cities like Ithaca and Binghamton. The region is also home to two public space and astronomy groups affiliated with prominent Universities or Observatories.

The Cornell Astronomical Society is affiliated with the Fuertes Observatory, located at Cornell University’s North Campus. The group engages in a wide range of space and astronomy projects, including a Museum Project, Open House Nights, and a public lecture series.

The Kopernik Astronomical Society is affiliated with the Kopernik Observatory and Science Center, and engages in a wide range of public programming year round. They host a Winter Star Party and an AstroFest, volunteer with educational programs at the Observatory, plan field trips, and much more.

The Southern Tier may not be New York’s most populous region, but it possesses more than its fair share of community programs in space and astronomy.

Central NY

Central New York serves as the crossroads of the state, playing host to the State Fair as well as Syracuse University.

The Syracuse Astronomical Society is the most prominent space and astronomy group in the region, affiliated with the Darling Hill Observatory in Tully. Approaching 50 years of active observation, the group is well established, hosting regular star parties and welcoming thousands of local residents over the years.

Central New York residents have access to one of the most experienced and well established space and astronomy organizations in the state, with numerous opportunities to experience all they have to offer.

Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes Region is known for its series of long glacial lakes and numerous wineries, but it is also home to a diverse series of public space and astronomy organizations, and is the hub of amateur rocketry in the state.

The Upstate Rocketry Research Group is based in Potter (outside of Penn Yan) and boasts one of the most highly regarded amateur rocketry ranges in the entire Northeast. They conduct monthly club launches, as well as youth and collegiate rocketry programs. They are a truly unique organization and a key space asset for the Finger Lakes Region.

The Monroe Astronautical Rocket Society was founded in 1961, inspired by the launch of Alan Shepard, making it one of the oldest and largest rocketry organizations in the state. Launching from Geneseo (near metro Rochester), they serve High Powered Rocketry teams, conduct monthly club launches, and allow any child attending a launch to participate for free. This is another significant contribution to the Finger Lakes prominence as an amateur rocketry hub.

The Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Sciences has been offering space and astronomy resources from the heart of metro Rochester since the early 1960’s, offering urban observing from the Strasenburgh Planetarium, dark sky observing from the Mees Observatory in Naples, and robust membership offerings including guest speakers and star parties.

The Finger Lakes Region is the amateur rocketry hub of the state, and possesses a trio of long-established civic organizations that promote space and astronomy to the entire region.

Western NY

Centered around metro Buffalo, Western New York is home to magnificent natural wonders like Niagara Falls, national sports teams like the Buffalo Bills, and major Universities like the University of Buffalo. It is also home to quality public organizations in space and astronomy that enrich the fabric of the entire community.

The Buffalo Astronomical Association traces its roots back to the 1930s, and offers extensive amateur astronomy opportunities, including use of the group's Beaver Meadow Observatory. The group also boasts a robust outreach program, actively engaging the community in a variety of forums and events.

The AIAA Niagara Section has resources available for those interested in the aerospace sector specifically.

Western New York has much to offer its residents, including some quality public space and astronomy organizations.

In Summary

Every region in New York possesses quality space sector civic organizations that provide the public with their own neighborhood gateway to the stars. These groups are vitally important to the space sector as a whole, providing grassroots engagement, inspiring young people, and offering unique programs and assets to their citizens.

Empire Space fervently believes in the missions of these groups, and encourages everyone to get involved, donate, and spread the word about these important community organizations. We hope they will grow with time, expanding their capacity to enrich the communities they serve.

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