Tours at Palomar Observatory

Due to the continuing pandemic, Palomar Observatory remains closed to the public. Visit the Tours and Greenway Talks headings in this section of our website for information about our online programs.
Updated Sat 01 Oct 2022 4:26 am PDT

The Observatory is closed to the public until further notice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently we are temporarily unable to provide our regular program of Public Guided Tours, Educational Group Tours and Visitors Gallery Presentations. However, during this shutdown the Observatory is able to offer a couple of options to parties interested in learning more about Palomar:

Palomar Observatory virtual tour. (Palomar/Caltech)

Self-Guided Virtual Tour

Palomar Observatory maintains an extensive virtual tour of observatory facilities, including many areas that are inaccessible to the public. Using panoramic images and embedded videos, the self-guided virtual tour allows “virtual guests” to visit the Observatory at their own pace. Users may choose from four separate entrances to the tour: the 200-inch Hale Telescope, the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope, the 60-inch telescope, and the Observatory's Visitor Center and Museum. For more information, please visit the virtual tour page.

Virtual Narrated Tours

For many years, our schedule of guided tours has been the mainstay and most popular element of the Observatory’s public program. A docent-led tour creates opportunities for discussions and questions that are not present in a self-guided tour. During shutdown, we are able to offer one-hour-long Virtual Narrated Tours of the 200-inch Hale Telescope guided by Observatory docents. In this program we:

  1. Cover the same material ordinarily presented during an in-person tour in the dome;
  2. Allow for audience discussions with a docent tour guide; and,
  3. Simulate as closely as possible the experience of our long-standing guided tour program in a virtual setting.

Virtual narrated tours use the virtual tour media linked above as context and Zoom as the communications medium. An Observatory docent joins each Zoom meeting and conducts the audience on a multi-location “virtual walk” through the Hale Dome. Each tour is scheduled for a date and time specified by the requesting organization and content can be tailored to the requesting group: general tour presentations will focus on observatory facilities, development, science history, and current research; education-focused presentations will place greater emphasis on career opportunities in astronomy and astrophysics.

Virtual narrated tours are scheduled a minimum of two weeks in advance by communicating with Observatory Events Coordinator Steve Flanders: flanders [at] There is no charge for civic, service, and educational groups—e.g, libraries, alumni/ae, and school groups. We encourage student groups at the high-school level and above to participate and will supply a list of the Observatory’s current research projects in advance of the tour for the purposes of student discussion.

Questions? We've answered many common visiting, media, and academic questions in our public FAQ page.
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Tours / v 1.0.7
Last updated: 27 October 2020 SBF/AFB/ACM