University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Friday Night Public Viewing

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics

Want to become an astronomer?

The Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics is pleased to give you the opportunity through our series of scheduled public viewings. From the rooftop of the Tate Laboratory of Physics & Astronomy, you will have the chance to observe some of the same celestial objects that have inspired sky-gazers throughout history.

Observing night in the news! Read about us in the Red Current.


The Institute schedules public viewing every Friday evening during the University's Fall and Spring semesters (they are discontinued for the summer). There are also short presentations each week regardless of the weather, so we'll always have something for you. Observing will follow the presentation if the weather is acceptable (clear with wind chill above -15° F, see the FAQ below for additional details).

NOTE: The Insitute has been moved from the Tate Laboratory of Physics & Astronomy pending renovations. The new location and details on public viewing for Fall 2015 will be updated here as we approach the Fall semester.


Public viewing is held on the roof of the Tate Laboratory of Physics & Astronomy. Enter on the north side of the building (along Church St, near Morrill Hall). Once in the building, proceed to room 131. The presentations will occur in room 131 before we move into the dome and onto the roof. For the observing session, take the south elevator to floor 4S. Go down the hallway to room 450 to access the roof and dome. If you need help locating our building or finding a good parking spot, try consulting our page on finding the Institute. Most nearby parking around campus is paid (garages, ramps, and meters).


Often, girl scout troops and various other groups enjoy attending our public viewing nights. If you would like to bring a large group (more than 15) to public viewing or if you wish to request a separate presentation for your group, contact our Public Outreach Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the desired observing session.


The Tate Laboratory of Physics & Astronomy is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and results in a mixed level of wheelchair accessibility for our events. A ramp to enter the building is located on the south side of the building, and the south elevator to floor 4S provides access to the presentation room: attending the talk portion of the event should provide few problems.

Unfortunately, access to the telescopes themselves—whether in the dome or on the roof—requires taking small sets of stairs to reach them. There are roughly 10 steps to enter the telescope dome and 5 to go outside on the roof. In addition, the roof surface is a rough gravel until you reach the wooden observing deckwhich has a narrow ramp with hand rails. In the dome, a rolling ladder is often necessary to reach the eyepiece for viewing.