Custer Institute & Observatory


Learn how to explore and navigate the summer night sky, including the summer constellations and stories behind them!

Gazing up at a star-filled night sky is awesome and humbling. To the novice stargazer, it can be overwhelming and disorienting. Throughout history, the night sky has served many functions to humanity- a clock, a calendar, a compass, a map and even a story book. Join stargazing lecturer Randall DiGiuseppe of the Custer Institute & Observatory for an evening of learning the basics of navigating the night sky as well as learning the locations and the folklore behind the most prominent constellations of summer.

Learn how to spot the North Star, the Summer Triangle, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the stories behind summer’s most well-known constellations. Learn also how to find your way around the night sky and how to use it to orient yourself on the ground.

This event is open to everyone. Just bring an inquisitive mind, a blanket and your imagination.

Randall DiGiuseppe is a professional artist, lecturer, telescope builder and amateur astronomer for over four decades. He is a lifetime member of the Custer Institute and Observatory and recipient of the Astronomical League’s Messier Award. He conducts lectures on the dynamics, history and art of the night sky throughout the country.

Following the presentation, Observatory staff will provide guided tours of the night sky (weather permitting) through the many telescopes on site, including the apochromatic Zerochromat telescope in our historic observation dome.

$5 Adult, $3 Children Under 16, Observatory Member FREE. Your donations make it possible to offer programs like these and are greatly appreciated. Due to limited space, registration is strongly encouraged at

Please bring a blanket or chair to enjoy the presentation.

Exploring and Navigating the Summer Night Sky Tickets, Sat, Jun 29, 2024 at 9:30 PM | Eventbrite




The Rites of Spring Music Festival returns to Custer Institute in their 9th season bringing contemporary music to our historic observatory!

Inspired by the writings of composer Marc Mellits of the saxophone quartet functioning as one machine powered by four individuals, this program highlights contemporary works for the ensemble influenced by funk, soul, post-minimalism; all with a lyrical tone that fuses with earlier works from the chamber music/classical canon that highlight a full palette of compositional and instrumental colors.

“Virtuosic to the core” (Textura) and hailed as “a tight-knit ensemble exploding with power and virtuosity” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), the Sinta Quartet is on a mission to bring the versatility, homogeneity, and excitement of the saxophone to audiences everywhere. Strengthening an already palpable connection with its audience by performing entirely from memory, the quartet provides a fresh take on chamber music that is at once beautiful, virtuosic, and a completely interactive experience.

Following the concert when the skies are dark, Observatory staff will provide guided tours of the night sky (weather permitting) through our many telescopes on site, including the apochromatic Zerochromat telescope in our historic observation dome.

$40 Adult, $30 Custer Observatory Members and Friends of R o S, Children Under 16 FREE. Attendance to this in-person performance will be limited – reserve your seats early!  Tickets at  Due to the outdoor nature of this program, a rain date will be scheduled as needed.

Please bring a blanket or chair to enjoy this outdoor presentation.


Chris Hass (b. 1993) Volcanic Ash (2017) (8 minutes)
*Winner of 2017 DSQ Composition Competition

Perry Goldstein Motherless Child Variations(12 minutes)

Marc Mellits (b. 1966) Ex Machina (2017) (17 minutes)
Machine I (let the funk out)
Machine II (flowing)
Machine III (not quite, but almost pensive; sunflowers in love)
Machine IV (dancing a mean ghastly dance)
Machine V (the morning after)
Machine VI (flowing, lyrical, & songlike
Machine VII (aggressive & funky)


David Biedenbender (b. 1984) Cerulean (2017) (14 minutes)
I. Sirens
II. Lullaby
III. Goof Groove

J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750)/Graser
Selections from Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080 (post. 1751) (8 minutes)

John Mackey (b. 1973) Unquiet Spirits (2012) (12 minutes)

Dan GraserSoprano Saxophonist

Zach SternAlto Saxophonist

Joe GirardTenor Saxophonist

Danny HawthorneBaritone Saxophonist

The Sinta Quartet injects music and fun into the air for unsuspecting passersby by appearing in nontraditional venues such as grocery stores, bars, and other public places, but they have also performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, and the Beijing Center for the Performing Arts. Since forming in 2010 as soloists for a tour of China with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the quartet has concertized in 9 countries, 32 states, and 2 Canadian provinces, giving diverse audiences a chance to experience a classical saxophone quartet for the first time. The Sinta Quartet made history in 2013 as the first saxophone ensemble to win the Victor Elmaleh First Prize from the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and continued to achieve success on the competition circuit, winning the Gold Medal at the 2018 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and 1st Prize at the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Competition.

The quartet’s programming takes the audience on an adventure through time, geography, and genre, often mixing classics from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries with commissions by today’s composers and rollicking in-house arrangements from various folk traditions. In addition to their live performances, the quartet recently released two albums featuring predominantly recent commissions and winning pieces from Sinta Quartet’s annual National Composition Competition. The first, Collider, hailed as, “An exciting ride! The ensemble, intonation, and technique in this recording are beyond question” (The Saxophonist Magazine), was released in 2019, and the second, Ex Machina, which was praised as “tightly performed and flawlessly recorded in generous, in-your-face sound” (Musical America), was released in 2020. 


The Rites of Spring Music Festival presents SPIRIT IN THE MACHINE

Tickets, Sat, Jul 27, 2024 at 7:00 PM | Eventbrite

Custer Observatory

1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold, NY 11971

Phone: 631-765-2626


ON-GOING: Custer Observatory is open to the public for stargazing every Saturday from 8pm until midnight. Staff provide guided tours of the night sky through powerful telescopes (weather permitting). Suggested donation: $5 Adults, $3 Children under 12.



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