What to Expect

We will do the best we can to make your Observatory visit an enjoyable event filled with astronomy. A typical Observatory visit can include the following components:

  • Stargazing: look at celestial objects through our main 10 inch refractor and possibly other telescopes, assisted by an astronomer (weather permitting and objects may depend on the season; see below). For daytime events, we will often bring out our Solar Telescope to safely show you our nearest star in detail.
  • For public events, we typically offer a presentation by a professional astronomer about a topic of general interest.
  • Guided visits to our 3 historical rooms full of astronomical artifacts. Step back in time as you visit our 1940s “Chair’s Office” and “Observatory Workshop” rooms and our 1969 Elginfield telescope control room.
  • Guided visits to our astronomical demonstrations vault. See for yourself how we detect planets around other stars, and how we can figure out what the Universe is made of.
  • For any visit, our astronomers will guide you and will be happy to answer any question you would have.

For the best experience, please keep the following points in mind when planning your visit:

  • Stargazing requires clear skies. If it’s cloudy, we will not be able to show you any stars, planets or other celestial objects. Unfortunately, clear nights are rare during our Fall and Winter seasons. In addition, we may not be able to point the telescopes to your favourite objects — this depends on what is visible in the sky at any given time.
  • In case stargazing happens, keep in mind that the temperature in the dome is nearly the same as the outside temperature, so we encourage you to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately.
  • On the other hand, temperatures throughout the building can vary tremendously, and it can become especially uncomfortable in the basement on warm summer nights when there are a lot of people in the building.
  • Our demonstration rooms and historical exhibits are small. Please be patient and follow our staff’s instructions as we guide small groups at a time through these rooms.