Novel Coronavirus (SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19)

Updated: Monday, May 27, 2020

At Frosty Drew Observatory we recognize the risks associated with the novel (new) coronavirus in the general area. Though we do not believe we are the authority on telling people what they should or should not be doing. We offer an educational, scientific service to the public with an overall message of hope. We believe that during this difficult and rapidly changing situation we can take solace in the cosmos, the night sky, and the natural world. This is part of our basis for remaining open to date. Recently, the RI Office of the Governor enacted a series of executive orders that restrict public gatherings, with an additional executive order issued on March 28, 2020 that resulted in park closures across the state, as well as non-critical businesses (to our dismay and embarrassment firearms stores are considered “critical retail businesses” in RI). This will have a significant impact on our Friday Stargazing Nights event.

At this time, we are modifying our Stargazing Nights event in the following ways:

  • All onsite events will be canceled until, at least, June 5, 2020. We are currently evaluating the situation for the potential of a restricted re-opening.
  • We will offer an online, remote version of our Summer Stargazing Nights event. This will include live views of the cosmos using telescopes and cameras as well as live commentary from our astronomers. Visitors will be able to tune in from home, submit questions, and see what our cameras see, all live. To learn more about our online Stargazing Nights events, visit our events page. Online events are listed as "Summer Stargazing Nights - Live Streamed".

We will continue to offer our Stargazing Nights event every Friday night, though we will offer it online until we can reopen our onsite facilities. We understand this is certainly not as amazing as the experience of standing out under thousands of stars, but it will give you a chance to engage in a spot of astronomy awesomeness on a weekly basis. To tune in, please visit our events page. Live streamed events will be listed as "Stargazing Nights - Live Streamed". The contents of that event will list the live stream URL. You can also subscribe the the Frosty Drew Observatory and Science Center YouTube, which will get you updates when we go live. Until we can host visitors on site, we will continue to put our usually best-effort-attempts into keeping you connected to the cosmos in any way that we can.

Limited access is currently granted to Ninigret Park and the Frosty Drew campus:

Starting on Saturday, May 23, 2020, Ninigret Park (home to the Frosty Drew campus) has been re-opened to limited public access. This will allow visitors to gain access to observe the night sky from the Frosty Drew campus as well. This is not a green light to go back to normal! RI regulations regarding these limited re-openings must be adhered to. What this means:

  • In compliance with RI Executive Order 20-32, all out of state visitors must self quarantine for 14 days. This executive order has been extended and is still applicable. This means that out-of-state visitors should not be on the Frosty Drew campus, aside from Frosty Drew Observatory and Science Center team members who are working!
  • If visiting one night to observe the stars, photograph the night sky, or to setup a telescope, you must maintain social distancing requirements. This includes maintaining a 6' perimeter between you and other visitors that are not people in your household (those you live with). Additionally, groups of 5 or more people are not permitted aside from immediate family members.

As RI slowly re-opens it is important to make an acceptable effort to follow current stipulations and mandates. If visitors are not in compliance, the park will likely be returned to a closed state and access for everybody will be denied. Additionally, it is not the responsibility of our astronomers, who are working, to manage visitors to the campus on nights that we are closed (which is every night at this time). If our astronomers feel that you are not reasonably complying with the requirements listed above, or are not co-operatively responding to their direction, you will be required to leave, immediately.

We understand that this is certainly less than optimal, and to many this may appear either ridiculous or not stringent enough. Regardless of your personal feelings, we need to maintain a reasonable adherence to regulations, as well as to being kind. We will not, under any circumstance, tolerate any discrimination in regards to this novel coronavirus on the Frosty Drew campus!. If you are unable to keep your personal views to yourself about how others are conducting themselves, then do not visit the Frosty Drew campus until you are able to restrain yourself. Any visitor that engages in discriminative behavior towards another visitor or team member will be required to leave, immediately!

When we do open our onsite facilities again, please note the following:

Execution of the Frosty Drew Observatory Stargazing Nights events will resume in a staggered fashion. We need to stay compliant with RI state requirements in regards to the novel coronavirus. This will certainly disrupt our regular presentation style. Though we are still evaluating and planning our re-opening, we have decided that the primary observatory 16" telescope, and the observatory building will not be open for visitor access for some time. Eventually, we will develop a process that allows for access to this facility and telescope to resume. The Sky Theatre facility will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Restroom facility access will be limited and will require stringent adherence to posted information. If we are experiencing problems, misuse, or concerns with our restroom and restroom access policy, we will discontinue allowing restroom access.

We have added a section to our Visiting the Observatory page that speaks to Health and Wellness. This section was added on March 3, 2020. We ask that any potential visitor who is experiencing symptoms of any contagion (cough, fever, shortness of breath, etc) to stay home and postpone your visit. Being outside under the stars is fabulous and healthy, but if you are already experiencing symptoms of illness, exposure to the outdoors and the environment at Frosty Drew Observatory will not make you feel better. On the contrary, exposure will exacerbate your existing symptoms, which will make you more likely to transmit the contagion to others, including our team members. Frosty Drew Observatory will be here when you get better and our team members will be happy to see you well.

Lastly, it is your responsibility to keep yourself healthy and to keep your contagions away from others, whether you realize you have them or not. If you are concerned about vulnerabilities you may have to the novel coronavirus or any other contagion, then you need to evaluate the risk you expose to yourself by visiting Frosty Drew Observatory. Additionally, if you are concerned that you may be carrying a contagion, then you need to evaluate the risk you pose to others who may be more vulnerable than you. By modifying our events to online only, we are attempting to stop the spread of any contagion among visitors at Frosty Drew Observatory, while continuing to offer whatever escape we can from our daily stresses to a place where we can reach for the stars.

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we will post updates to our plan as they happen. For now, thank you for your understanding, stay positive, and restrict your readings on the novel coronavirus to the CDC, WHO, State Health Departments, and stay away from false information – which is just as dangerous as any contagion currently effecting our region.