MAY 14, 9:00PM.


The Earth is part of a large and very active solar system.  Many comets, asteroids and Near-Earth Objects share our space!

In this outdoor talk, you will learn about comets, asteroids and Near Earth Objects that have been discovered in the last several years, including visitors from other star systems as well as close neighbors that cross Earth’s orbit every several years.

We share our space with many small bodies, leftover from the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. But don’t let their small size diminish their intrigue! There are currently 1,113,527 known asteroids and 3,743 known comets, some beautiful to see, while others pose a potential threat to our Earth.

The presenter, Steven Bellavia, is currently the principal mechanical engineer for the camera on the Vera Rubin telescope (formerly called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, LSST) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he has worked since 1992. Prior to that, Steve was doing research and engineering for the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory. As an aerospace engineer for Grumman Aerospace with the Thermodynamics Group of the Space Division he played a key role in developing a nuclear rocket engine and with the design, fabrication, and analysis of a micro-gravity liquid droplet radiator that flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-029.

Steve has been recognized for the discovery of the Clair Obscure effect “Lunar L”, which is described in the December 2018 issue of Astronomymagazine. He is also an assistant adjunct professor of astronomy and physics at Suffolk County Community College and the Astronomy Education and Outreach Coordinator at Custer Institute and Observatory.

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 Members FREE. Your donations make it possible to offer programs like these and are greatly appreciated. Registration is strongly encouraged, but not required.  Register at  

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


MAY 28, 7:00PM (RAIN DATE JUNE 4, 7:00PM).


The Rites of Spring Music Festival returns to Custer Observatory, presenting this 7th edition live performance outdoors under a NoFo sunset!

New Music Under the Big Sky will take you on a journey to create an immersive musical evening like nothing you have experienced before. The performance features Rites of Spring Ensemble (R o S Ensemble), a new group that embodies the spirit of the new music culture and is dedicated to performing innovative, collaborative, and exciting works of living composers and the contemporary works from composers of the recent past.

Whether you’re a classical lover or a lover of extraordinary experiences, New Music Under the Big Sky pushes the boundaries of a traditional music event. This program presents new music by Rohwer, Psathas, Reich, Roche, Goliov, Villa-Lobos and Richter for a very exciting evening of music and stargazing!

R o S Ensemble aims to bring people together and focus on what is happening today in the global arts world. Come and slow down with us, be immersed with music, lights and stars!

Following the concert, 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.


Music Program

  • Mimikry – by Nils Rohwer (marimba & piano)
  • One Study – by John Psathas (marimba)
  • Electric Counterpoint – by Steve Reich (electric guitar)
  • Mariel – by Osvaldo Goliov (cello & marimba)
  • O Canto do Cisne Negro by Heitor Villa Lobos (cello & piano)
  • On the Nature Of Daylight – by Max Richter (cello & piano)
  • Twenty-Five Eight Wow – by David John Roche (electric guitar & marimba)


Rites of Spring Ensemble (R o S Ensemble )

R o S Ensemble is a collectively organized group of musicians dedicated to performing classical music and creating new artistic works at the highest level. Based on the East End of Long Island, the ensemble is committed to the idea that new music belongs in every community and implements this mission through touring and outreach to connect with audiences and artists, focusing specifically on bringing music to locations out of the reach of many music organizations.

Iva Casian-Lakos, Cello

Dan Lippell, Electric Guitar

Dan Pate, Percussions

Paolo Bartolani, Piano / Synthesizer

Created by founder Paolo Bartolani, pianist and artistic director of Rites of Spring Music Festival, R o S Ensemble is dedicated to connecting communities across the East End of Long Island and the United States through the development and performance of music across the country. This ensemble explores, performs new music, extended performing techniques, mixing improvisation and composition, including other aspects of performance centered around the latest developments in sonic art. Their experience is extensive: from creating and performing music in unconventional venues, to site-specific projects that combine music, natural environment, and history, to collaborating with like-minded artists, performers, and thinkers, and offering a platform for all whose work demands it.

$45 Adult, $35 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! Reserve your tickets at Due to the outdoor nature of this program, a rain date is scheduled for June 4 at 7:00pm.  

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

To learn more about the Rites of Spring Music Festival and the Rites of Spring Ensemble visit


Custer Observatory

Address: 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 7pm until midnight in the fall, winter and spring and 8pm until midnight from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Staff provide guided tours of the night sky through powerful telescopes (weather permitting). Suggested donation: $5 Adults, $3 Children under 12. 


AAQ / Resource: Townsend Manor Inn

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