Celebrating 75 Years of Discovery

Tours at Palomar Observatory

Palomar Observatory is closed today due to the dangerous conditions created by snow and ice on the roads and walkways.
Updated Mon 16 Jan 2023 7:08 am PST

The following options are available to Palomar Observatory visitors:

Self-Guided Tours

Most Palomar visitors will tour the accessible areas (see map below) on their own.

Public Guided Tours (April – October)

Map of the Observatory grounds showing the meeting location for the general tours. (Palomar/Caltech)

In 2023, the guided tours will tentatively be offered on weekends starting Saturday April 1 until Sunday October 29.

Public guided tours of the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope are available to visitors on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday) spring through fall—typically from the first weekend in April to the last weekend October.

The tours are roughly one hour long, and limited-availability tickets (sold exclusively on a day-of and first-come, first served basis) are required. Please plan accordingly.

Time and Location

Public tour start times are 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Please follow the signs from the Visitor Center to the tour meeting point. Tours start on the northwest side of the Hale Telescope dome (immediately to the left of the large service doors as viewed facing the dome from the west). To ensure you make your tour (and in consideration of others) please be on time.

Tickets

Public tour tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are sold in the Observatory Gift Shop in the Greenway Visitor Center the day of the tour. We cannot offer online or advance ticket sales. The Gift Shop opens at 9:15 am and tickets go on sale for all tours that day at that time.

Tickets are $5.00 per person, $3.00 for children (ages 5 through 12) and seniors (age 65 and over), maximum 6 tickets per customer. Tour presentations are unsuitable for children under 5 years of age, hence our minimum age requirement.

Please note that tours may be cancelled due to Observatory operations or available staffing. Check this page for updates.

Important Notes

  • There is no viewing through the Hale Telescope as a part of the tours.
  • As noted above, children under 5 years of age are not admitted to our guided tours.
  • We cannot accommodate pets on tours of the Hale Telescope. However, guests with service dogs are welcome.
  • We regret that we cannot accommodate wheelchair access to the Hale Telescope dome as part the tours. For more information, please see our Visiting Palomar page.
  • Please note that the interior of the Hale Telescope dome is kept at nighttime temperatures for an elevation of 5,598 feet/1,702 meters. Temperatures inside the dome are often in the 30s and 40s °F (0–10 °C) from October through May. Dress accordingly. High-heeled shoes are not recommended for the tours.
  • Please keep in mind that Palomar Observatory is a research facility.

Questions? We've answered many common visiting, media, and academic questions in our public FAQ page.
Please share your feedback on this page at the COO Feedback portal.

Tours / v 1.0.7
Last updated: 28 October 2022 AFB/SBF/ACM