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 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.

The 2km walking tour takes 1 to 2 hours over some steep hills and uneven ground. Regular fitness is required and sensible, closed foot wear is essential. Bookings are required as numbers are limited per tour. Please book via email or phone.

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.

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

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

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:  28 December 2014/Responsible Officer:  RSAA Director/Page Contact:  Webmaster