Siding Spring Observatory

Overview

Siding Spring StarFest is being held on the first weekend in October.

Siding Spring Observatory (SSO), on the edge of the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran, NSW, is Australia's premier optical and infrared observatory.

The Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA), operates its research telescopes, and hosts those of other institutions at this spectacular location next to the picturesque Warrumbungle Mountains. You can learn more about the various telescopes and organisations that own and run them on the telescopes of SSO page.

SSO is a working research facility and as such it has no public star-gazing facilities. The Observatory and its surrounds are closed to the general public from 4pm each day.

There are, however, a range of activities for visitors to the observatory, including:

  • A visitor centre with informative and educational displays about telescopes and astronomy.
  • Access to the viewing gallery of the Anglo-Australian Telescope, which is run by the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO)
  • Spectacular views of the Warrumbungle National Park
  • A cafe and shop at the visitor centre that is stocked with great food and gift ideas. Morning and afternoon teas and light lunches are available - contact us for group pricing.
  • Our annual StarFest celebration is held in October. You can meet our astronomers and discover more about the observatory and the science that is done here.
  • School holiday activities, including talks by local astronomers and guided walking tours of the observatory.
  • Tours for groups of all ages can be organised on request. Please contact the visitor centre in advance for pricing and availability. A minimum group size of 15 applies for all tours.
  • View upcoming events and activities at SSO on the activities page.

Email us for information about our school education programs, or Ask an Astronomer a question about astronomy or telescopes.

Activities

Tours of Siding Spring Observatory

Take a closer look around Siding Spring Observatory. Join our tour guide and explore normally restricted areas within Australia’s premier astronomical research facility. This tour is only available for the school holiday seasons. School groups, coach groups or private groups of more than 15 people can be booked at other times throughout the year, please enquire.

Learn about the importance of this area to astronomy research and the natural environment. Enjoy a walk with breathtaking views of the Warrumbungle Ranges and parts of the ancient volcano. Learn more about the various telescopes and international organisations that reside on site and what it is they observe.

Please note that the weather here can be quite variable. It can be quite warm or at the other extreme quite cool. Sunscreen, a hat, water and a warm coat/jacket are advisable. The approximate 2km walk takes place over some hilly and uneven ground so sensible and closed in foot wear is essential. Bookings are required as numbers are limited per tour please book via email or phone.

The tours take up to 1 1/2 hours and there are some steep hills involved.

Prices are $15 Adult, $7.50 Child/Concession and $40 Family

Tour Offerings for the Christmas 2014/2015 School Holidays will be published soon.

Please note: Siding Spring Observatory (SSO) is a working research facility and as such we are not open at night for public viewing. Siding Spring Observatory is closed to the general public after 4pm.

Stargazing in the Warrumbungles

Don't miss this unforgettable star gazing experience under the Warrumbungle night sky. Experience the wonders of star gazing and learn all about astronomy in Warrumbungle National Park. The famous Siding Spring Observatory overlooks the Warrumbungle mountain range, and they're bringing all of their experience to this NPWS Discovery activity. You'll go on a journey into space under the mesmerizing Warrumbungle night sky. Find constellations, planets, the Southern Cross and listen to night sky stories. Nearby Coonabarabran is known as the ‘Astronomy capital of Australia’ and Warrumbungle National Park is the ultimate place to see infinite stars.

Friday 7 November 2014, 7.30pm to 9pm.

Adult $15 per person. Concession $10 per person. Child $8 per person. Family $40 for two adults and two children. A park use fee of $7 per vehicle applies.

For more information visit the National Parks and Wildlife What's On webpage.

Information for visitors

Siding Spring Open Day is the 3rd of October 2015.

The Siding Spring Exploratory houses a small astronomy exhibition area with hands on activities for the whole family. Enjoy a great coffee, lunch or a snack at the Exploratory café and browse the wonderful variety of souvenirs and gifts available.

The Australian Astronomical Observatory houses the Anglo-Australian Telescope which is the largest telescope in Australia. The AAT is an impressive two storeys high and holds a 3.9m, 16 ton ceramic glass mirror. Inside this massive dome is a visitor viewing gallery open to the public and free of charge. From the gallery you can see the telescope, read about its history and cosmic discoveries. Behind the AAO on ground level is a lookout which oversees the iconic Warrumbungle National Park, take a moment to view the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding Siding Spring mountain.

Opening hours

Monday to Friday: 9:30am to 4pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10am to 4pm
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day

Please note that the weather here can be quite variable. It can be quite warm or at the other extreme quite cool. Sunscreen, a hat, water and a warm coat/jacket are advisable.

Please note: Siding Spring Observatory (SSO) is a working research facility and as such we are not open at night for public viewing. Siding Spring Observatory is closed to the general public after 4pm.

Updated:  01 November 2014/Responsible Officer:  RSAA Director/Page Contact:  Webmaster