Siding Spring Observatory

Overview

Siding Spring Observatory (SSO), in the Warrumbungle Mountains 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.
  • We also hold an annual open day where you can meet our astronomers and discover more about the individual telescopes at the observatory.
  • School holiday activities, including talks by local astronomers and guided walking tours of the observatory, are held at the observatory.
  • Tours for groups of all ages available 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

School Holiday Walking 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.

See how the site was affected and is recovering from the January 2013 Wambelong Bushfire.

This Easter school holiday break there will be two tours daily held each Monday to Thursday with set times of 10.30am - 12noon and 12.30pm – 2pm. Dates are as follows:

Monday 14th & 21st April 

Tuesday 15th & 22nd April

Wednesday 16th & 23rd April

Thursday 17th & 24th April

There are no tours Friday, Saturday or Sundays

Prices are $10 Adult, $5 Child/Concession and $25 Family

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

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.

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

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:  11 March 2014/Responsible Officer:  RSAA Director/Page Contact:  Webmaster