Siding Spring Observatory

Overview

Siding Spring StarFest is held on the first weekend in October 2016.

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 National Park. 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 we do here.
  • School holiday activities, including guided walking tours of the observatory and talks by astronomers and scientists.
  • 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

School groups, coach tours or private groups of more than 15 people can be booked at any time throughout the year. Please enquire.

During school holidays, regular tours will allow you to take a closer look around Siding Spring Observatory. Join our tour guide and explore normally restricted areas within Australia’s premier astronomical research facility. See below for dates and times.

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: The weather here can be quite variable. It can be quite warm one moment, and quite cool the next. Sunscreen, a hat, water and a warm coat/jacket are advisable.

Due to variable and extreme weather during January, our tour offerings for the 2015/2016 Christmas School Holidays will be restricted to talks only, to be held in the Exploratory theatrette.

Talks will be held 4 days per week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), starting January 5th at 12:30pm.
Each talk is approximately 30 minutes with time for questions afterwards.
Topics will be "The Telescopes of SSO" or "A Night in the Life of an Astronomer"
Topics may vary depending on speaker availablility and guest requests.

Cost is $5 per person, $15 family.

Bookings can be made by calling (02) 6842 6363
or email ssovisitorcentre@anu.edu.au.

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.

Information for visitors

Siding Spring StarFest will be held on the first weekend in October 2016.

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 and read about its history and the discoveries it has made.

Behind the AAO building is a lookout which over looks the iconic Warrumbungle National Park. Take a moment to view the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding Siding Spring Observatory.

Opening hours

Open 7 Days during NSW School Holidays except Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Outside of school holidays;
Tuesday to Friday: 9:30am to 4pm
Saturday and Public Holidays: 10am to 4pm
Closed Sunday and Monday

During times of Severe Fire Danger (or higher) and extreme weather events, the observatory will be closed to visitors.

Please call us for more information on opening times.

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:  24 December 2015/Responsible Officer:  RSAA Director/Page Contact:  Webmaster