Free evening tours are available for previously-organized groups of 10 or more children and/or adults. We can accommodate up to 25 people including, if applicable, leaders or chaperones.
Typical groups that visit include Girl Guides (Brownies and Guides) and Boy Scouts (Cubs and Scouts), other youth groups, school classes, various adult groups, and cadets. Please note that our programs are not suitable for children under 7 (this would include Beavers and Sparks).
If your "group" is an informal group of friends or family, sorry, but you cannot book a private group tour at this time. Our experience has shown that, despite the best of intentions, the number of attendees drop below the minimum OR events are cancelled at the last minute.
Group tours are scheduled on Monday evenings. The start time is set based on the time of sunset and the preference of the group.
The mid to late fall and the winter to early spring are the most popular times. By late March, it gets dark too late in the evening for groups with young children.
Due to the observatory's use by our astronomy students and other commitments, with few exceptions, we cannot accommodate other evenings.
Group tours consist of a 45 minute presentation in a classroom titled: either "Tour of the Universe" or "Tour of the Solar System" (adjusted to suit the group) followed by a visit to the observatory.
On clear evenings, the telescope is used to view the planets, the Moon, or other interesting celestial objects. On cloudy evenings, the operation of the observatory's telescope (and telescopes in general) is explained. If time permits, we also use our Observation Deck to point out the stars and constellations.
The tour lasts about 1.5 hours - this includes walking time from the meeting place. They are held whether or not the skies are clear. Do not book a tour if you plan to cancel if the skies are not clear. To note, visiting the Observatory requires an elevator ride to the 22nd floor then a walk up two flights of stairs. Thus, the Observatory is not a fully physically-accessible space.
How to Book a Tour
Visit our booking calendar (powered by Calendly) to see and book upcoming available evenings for group tours. Additionally, you may contact us, by email or by phone. Tours are typically booked weeks or months in advance. Additional dates are available for daytime visits and there may be additional evenings available for school classrooms - if this is applicable to you, please contact us.