Loines Observatory, Nantucket
July 26, 2023
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Loines Observatory is the perfect hangout spot for anyone who loves observing the stars, comets, other planets, the nebulae, and the like. It is one of the two observatories under the Maria Mitchel Association. The other (the main one) is the Maria Mitchell Observatory. Both units were created to honor Maria Mitchell, the first American Woman Astronomer.

The Loines Observatory features high-quality telescopes that point to anything interesting on any particular night. These include a historic 8-inch Allan Clark refractor and a modern 24-inch research telescope. They provide a well-enhanced view of star clusters, the moon, planets, nebulae, and other galaxies.

You may not always know what you are looking at – to answer your questions, knowledgeable scientists are always on standby. Guided tours also ensure you learn and see as much as possible.

Visiting the Loines Observatory

Located about a Kilometer west of town, the Loines Observatory is conveniently accessible. You may get to it using a bike, private car, taxi, or bus. If you are up for it, you may also walk from town. Remember to carry a flashlight to find your way easily.

The Observatory is open to the public throughout the Summer on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Nantucket gets quite busy during the summer; thus, the Observatory often receives many visitors. To manage their visitors’ list, the Observatory requires that visitors register before their visit.

The registration process is open for everyone, but children can only sign up with an adult guardian. If you cannot register on time, walk-ins are allowed, but it is not a guarantee you will get a spot.

The Observatory’s management requires that you arrive at least 10 minutes before the star-gazing program starts to ensure you don’t miss out on anything. Ensure to wear weather-appropriate clothing as the viewing event occurs outside at night. You may also carry a bug spray to keep off mosquitoes and bugs.

In inclement weather, such as thunderstorms or heavy rains, the Observatory often cancels the event. On such days, check their website for updates to avoid disappointment.

Loines Observatory Community Programs & Events

For decades the Observatory has provided plentiful public education and research programs, including internships in astronomy and physics for undergraduate students. In 2009, the Mitchell Association received a presidential Award from President Barrack Obama for their outstanding mentorship in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering.

Sign up for the Observatory’s programs to benefit from its mentorship. You get to learn more about astronomy, history, and the environment. Depending on your area of interest, you may enroll in the private beach biology field trip to learn about Nantucket’s ecology, geology, and uniqueness, Artists-In- Residence program to showcase your creations, and Nantucket Bird Walk to learn about the various types of birds on the Island, among other programs.

Programs such as Discovery Classes, Nature Story Hour, Bug Bonanza, Beach Biology Field Trip, and Outdoor Camps are ideal for your young ones.

Every year the Observatory holds several events at different locations on the Island. These include the Annual Nantucket Green Crab Week, Women of Science Symposium, MMA Shark Week, Nantucket Science Festival, Bird – A – Thon, Maria Mitchell’s Birthday, the Stargazer Gala, and Science Speaker Series. These events aim to educate the public about science, the environment, and Nantucket’s history. They also provide an excellent opportunity to socialize and make new friends.

Visit Maria Mitchell Association’s website to learn more about Loines Observatory’s events and programs and how to enroll.

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