New England Fall Astronomy Festival (NEFAF)

New England Fall Astronomy Festival (NEFAF)
Night sky
September 30 & October  1, 2022

At the UNH Observatory, on the UNH Durham Campus - 16 Spinney Road

Admission is FREE but donations are welcome. Food and beverages available for purchase.


Main Tent

7  p.m. - Opening Remarks 
Cyndee Gruden, Dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS)-

7:15 - 8:20 p.m. - Exoplanets and the Search for Life Beyond Earth & Q&A
Sara Seager, MIT - UNH, Observatory Main Tent 

8:30 - 8:50 p.m.  - Meet and Greet with Sara Seager, MIT
Book and photograph signing


Observatory Area

7:30 - 8  p.m. - Early Laser Pointer Sky Tour 
For younger astronomers and their parents

8:15 - 11:30 p.m.  - General Night Sky Observing

8:40 - 9:15 p.m.  - Unistellar eQuinox Telescope Demonstration
by Alex Filippenko, UC - Berkeley 

9:15 - 9:45 p.m.  - Early Laser Pointer Sky Tour 



All Day

NEFAF AstroRaffle Tickets Sold at front gate, main tent and roving sellers; Betty's Kitchen Food Truck in parking lot.

Main Tent 

10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Kids' Hands-On Science Activity Center & AstroScavenger Hunts 
Telescope building, solar system models, solar bead jewelry, astronomers' flashlights, pocket solar system, Moon phases & AstroScavenger hunts)

10:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. - A Walk Through the Solar System, Self-Guided  
Starts in Main Tent; continues in North field. 

10:45 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Face Painting

11:45 a.m.  - 1:30 p.m.- Rocketeer Group I
Build and launch your own rocket (max 25)

Noon-1p.m. - NHAS Telescope Clinic - Session I
NHAS booth

12:45  - 2:30 p.m. - Rocketeer Group II
Build and launch your own rocket (max 25)

1:45  - 3:30 p.m. - Rocketeer Group III
Build and launch your own rocket (max 25)

3-4 p.m. - NHAS Telescope Clinic - Session II
NHAS booth

4:30 - 5 p.m. - The world famous NEFAF AstroRaffle!

5:15 - 6 p.m.  -  Alex Filippenko Meet and Greet with book and photograph signing

6:15 - 7:45 p.m. - A New Surprise in the Accelerating Expansion of the  + Q & A
Alex Filippenko, UC - Berkeley

Observatory Area

11 a.m.  - Solar Observing
Also near main tent.

7:30 - 11:30 p.m.  - General Night Sky Observing

7:30 - 8  p.m. - Early Laser Pointer Sky Tour 
For younger astronomers and their parents

8:15-8:45 p.m. -  Unistellar eQuinox Telescope Demonstration
by Alex Filippenko, UC - Berkeley 



Smaller Speaker Tent Near Observatory

Noon - 12:45 p.m.The Great Solar Eclipse of 2024
By J. Kelly Beatty, Senior Editor Sky & Telescope (get an advance peak at other upcoming solar and lunar eclipses)

1 - 1:45 p.m. Choosing a Telescope
By Steve Rand, The New Hampshire Astronomical Society (NHAS)

2 - 2:45 p.m. Gamma Ray Burst Astronomy Takes a LEAP to the International Space Station
By Mark McConnell, Director of R & D at the Southwest Research Institute and Professor of Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UNH

3:00 - 3:45 p.m. Student Presentations

  • Flying Through the Sun's Atmosphere, Noshin Mashayekhizadeh, UNH Physics Grad Student,
  • What is Space Science? My Personal Experience in Space Science Research, Isabella Householder, UNH graduate and Lab Technician for the IMAP project
  • Endurance: Launching a Sounding Rocket from the High Arctic, Lance Dais, UNH Observatory Manager, Physics Grad Student,


Main Tent Exhibitors
  • New Hampshire Astronomical Society (NHAS)
  • Southwest Research Institue (SwRI)
  • University of New Hampshire Physics Department
  • Kids' Hands-On Science & Materials for Teachers Activity Center
  • CLC Tutors
  • The UNH Observatory
  • College of Life Science and Agriculture (COLSA)
  • Bob Veilleux's Meteorite Exhibit (NHAS booth)
  • Plymouth State University
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
  • UNH SEDS Rocketry
  • UNH Space Science Center


Join us for a 2-day immersion into Astronomy and Space Exploration for astronomers and space explorers of all ages and education levels.
Quick links
Friday, September 30, 2022  7 - 11:30 P.M.

Sara Seager, of MIT will kick off the festival with the keynote  lecture, followed by other presentations and guided laser pointer talks under the stars and observing the moon, sun, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Uranus, Neptune and many deep sky objects.  

Sara Seager, MIT


Sara Seager, MIT

UNH Observatory
Saturday, October 1, 2022   10:30 A.M - 11:30 P.M.

Join us for educational activities, games, safe solar observing, science talks, demonstrations, raffle drawings, our famous telescope clinics, Astro prize raffle and keynote talk by Alex Filippenko followed by another night of stargazing!

Alexei V. Filippenko, UC Berkeley


Alexei V. Filippenko, UC Berkeley

For persons seeking accessibility accommodations or who have questions, please contact John Gianforte, prior to the event.

Activities (slideshow)

  • Crowd safe sun watching  at NEFAF
    Safe Solar Observing
  • Rocket Launching at NEFAF
    Rocket Building and Launching
  • Telescope clinics at NEFAF
    Telescope Clinics
  • Weather balloon Launching at NEFAF
    A weather balloon launch 
  • Kids playing with an astro game
    Kids Astro Games
  • Save Sun viewing  at NEFAF
    Safe Solar Observing
  • Child's face being painted
    Face Painting
  • Kids playing Astro Games
    Astro Games
  • raffle tickets
    NEFAF's famous AstroRaffle 
  • Keynotes at NEFAF 22
    Signing opportunities 
  • man playing with toy rocket
    Kids hands-on science activities
  • Woman playing with toy rocket
    Kids hands-on science activities

Frequently Asked Questions

Crowd safe sun watching  at NEFAF

The festival is for anyone who has an interest in astronomy.  Local amateurs, like the members of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, share their passion and enthusiasm about astronomy with the public. Families in particular are encouraged to attend NEFAF because astronomy can be such a great group hobby. NEFAF will cater to families of all ages, with activities like face-painting and stories for small children and hands-on activities and demonstrations for older kids and young adults.

For young adults as well as adults of any age there will be a series of short, informal science talks throughout the day on Saturday given by students, faculty, and other invited guests. There will be safe solar viewing and telescope clinics for scopes in need of a little TLC. On Saturday afternoon, we'll hold our famous AstroRaffle with great astronomy-related prizes like telescopes, binoculars, eyepieces and books.  

  • Kids hands-on science activities
    man working with a toy rocket
  • Keynote talks on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.)
  • Laser pointer programs to identify stars, constellations, and planets (weather permitting)
  • Stargazing through the UNH Observatory telescopes and telescopes staffed by amateur astronomers from various New England clubs
  • Signing opportunities following the keynote talks
  • Telescope Clinics 
  • Safe Solar Observing 
  • Rocket building and launching 
  • Face painting
  • A weather balloon launch by meteorologists from Plymouth State University
  • NEFAF's famous AstroRaffle (Saturday afternoon) Tickets will be on sale all during the Festival
  • A demonstration of the new Unistellar eVscope (new digital telescope) by Professional Astronomer, Alex Filippenko
Rocket Launching at NEFAF
Telescope clinics at NEFAF

The lot on Spinney Lane, which is closest to the Observatory , will be used for parking.

Additional parking will be available on the right (north) side of O'Kane Road and in Mast Road Lot 2. Mast Road Lot 2 is a dirt and gravel lot that lies along Main Street and Mast Road Extension and holds approximately 150 cars.

Parking will also be available at the UNH Child Study and Development Center from 6 p.m. on Friday and all day and all night on Saturday.

 Accessible parking spots are available near the Contractor's Lot on Spinney Lane.

Overflow parking available in the Moiles Parking lot on the corner of Main Street and Mast Road Extension.

New England Astronomy Festival Parking Map

The best part about NEFAF is that you don't need to bring anything! Admission to the festival is 100% free, although donations to the UNH Observatory are appreciated. The only cost to you would be if you'd like to purchase food or tickets for our raffle.

We will also be featuring a telescope clinic, so if you have a telescope at home that is broken or you're not quite sure how to use, you can bring that with you and have it looked at by our telescope experts. Other than that, just bring your excitement and enthusiasm!

Most of the events for NEFAF will take place on the lawns surrounding the UNH Observatory, which may pose problems for guests in wheelchairs. If you have any specific questions about accessibility at NEFAF, please email

Unfortunately, the full breadth of NEFAF's events will only be able to occur if the weather cooperates. In the case of cloud cover, but no precipitation, NEFAF will be held without its weather-dependent activities, such as solar and night-time observing. If there is cloud cover with light rain, most of our talks and presentations will most likely still be held without the outdoor activities. In the case of heavy rain or storms, the event may need to be cancelled. Please check our website and Facebook page for weather updates and information.


New Hampshire Astronomical Society logo


Donations are very much-appreciated to keep the New England Fall Astronomy Festival going for years to come. These donations go directly to help fund NEFAF. Thank you in advance!

Please click the "Donate" button and select "additional or multiple funds" and click on "Physics & Astronomy Festival Gift Fund".




Meet Our Special Guests

Sara Seager
Class of 1941 Professor of Physics and Planetary Science, MIT

Sara Seager’s current research interests are focused upon the discovery and characterization of exoplanets. She has two main goals: the discovery of another Earth and the search for signs of life by way of atmospheric biosignature gases. Thousands of exoplanets are known to exist with exoplanet atmospheres a firmly established field of research. Exoplanet atmosphere observations, are however mostly limited to giant exoplanets with puffy atmospheres. Seager’s group aims to understand the atmospheric composition and the interior structure of small rocky exoplanets, of the kind with potential to host life. Seager is this year's keynote lecture on Friday. Learn More

Alexei V. Filippenko
Professor, Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, and a Miller Senior Fellow in the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science (UC Berkeley) of Physics and Planetary Science

Alex Filippenko is a Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, and a Miller Senior Fellow in the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science (UC Berkeley). His specialty areas include Active galaxies, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black hole transients, Black holes, Cosmology, Galaxies at Cosmological Distances, Gamma-ray bursts, Neutron Stars, Supernovae and the expansion of the Universe. Learn More

  • People standing around the UNH observatory
History of the New England Fall Astronomy Festival

Look For Our New Banner!

  • NEFAF banner


Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are an important part of NEFAF. Click the button and fill out the form to apply.  Opportunities include operating telescopes, running kids games, selling raffle tickets, assisting with parking, setting up booths, and cleaning up. Astronomy knowledge not required, just a desire to help. 

Volunteer Form