Despite frequent cloud cover, Rochester is a great place to see the stars and go stargazing. The Rochester Clear Sky Clock is a good resource to use to find out whether it will be clear tonight.
For beginners, the Rochester Astronomy Club offers public star parties, which are announced at the club website. In addition, club members man the telescope at the top of the Strasenburgh Planetarium at the Rochester Museum and Science Center on clear Saturday nights from around April through December. Admission is free. Call the planetarium box office after 7 p.m. at 585-271-4552 x411 for info on whether the scope is open.
Addionally, the Mees Observatory near Naples offers a good venue to bring the family or interest group to a tour of a professional observing facility (albiet not Keck or Kitt Peak). Owned by the University of Rochester it is operated in cooperation with their Astronomy Department, RIT's Center for Imaging Science and Physics Department, and the Rochester Astronomy Club. Tours are offered weekends during the Summer.
Yet another option is public observing sessions at the RIT Observatory, located on the South-East corner of campus along John Road.
See also Lewis A. Swift a notable local astronomer.
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2005-11-26 19:26:35 I've always the found light pollution around the Rochester area maddening. Where are your favorite locations? —RobertPolyn
2005-11-26 19:58:24 Short answer: yes, it is maddening, 'burbs or city. The outlying parks (e.g., Mendon Ponds) are good. I'll update this entry with more on that soon. —RottenChester
2008-08-29 13:16:10 I'd love to find a place away from the city lights to stargaze. Don't the parks usually close at sundown? —DougDavidson