Palomar Observatory's Educational Mission and Partners

Visitors line up to see the Hale Telescope during a 2005 Palomar Observatory open house. (Palomar/Caltech)

A key element in Palomar Observatory's strategic mission is sharing its research program with the broader community. Consequently a vibrant and inclusive education and public outreach program is an important part of Observatory life. Our program involves Palomar staff, astronomers, volunteers, visitors, and astronomy enthusiasts. In doing so we hope to foster enthusiasm for science and engineering in students across all levels and educational institutions, and promote public awareness of the role the Observatory has played in astronomy and Southern California history.

Educational Partners

Palomar Observatory conducts tours and hosts demonstrations, star parties and presentations for educational institutions throughout the region. We define "educational institutions" broadly to include not only grade schools, high schools, and colleges, but scout troops and other youth organizations as well.

Under this broad definition, the following is a partial list of the educational organizations with which we have established partner relationships over the last six months:

  • Escondido Charter High School, Escondido, CA
  • Biola University, La Mirada, CA
  • San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
  • The Cambridge School, San Diego, CA
  • University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA
  • Palomar College, San Marcos, CA
  • High Tech High Point Loma, San Diego, CA
  • Mesa College, San Diego, CA
  • Fullerton College, Fullerton, CA
  • Pomona College, Claremont, CA
  • Mt. San Jacinto College, San Jacinto, CA
  • Ipswich High School for Girls, Ipswich, Suffolk, UK
  • NASA Student Airborne Research Project/UC Irvine
  • American Language Institute, SDSU, San Diego, CA
  • Los Angeles City College/CURE, Los Angles, CA
  • Mojave Environmental Education Consortium, Victorville, CA
  • International Org. of Women Pilots, Valley Stream, NY
  • MIT Alumni Association, Cambridge, MA
  • Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA
  • Cub Scout Pack 715, Las Flores, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 127, Agoura Hills, CA
  • Perchanga School, Temecula, CA
  • Cub Scout Pack 722, Walnut, CA
  • Cub Scout Pack 300, Murrieta, CA
  • Villa Park High School, Villa Park, CA
  • Cub Scout Pack 681, Rancho Bernardo, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 233, Corona, CA
  • Girl Scout Troop 722, Riverside, CA
  • Cub Scout Pack 7, South Pasadena, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 1602, Mission Viejo, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 639, Foothills Ranch, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 423, San Dimas, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 1238, Fullerton, CA
  • Boy Scout Troop 509/JPL, La Canada, CA
  • Cub Scout Pack 756, Oceanside, CA
  • Balboa City School, San Diego, CA

In addition, as part of our general outreach program, we maintain relationships with Griffith Observatory, Julian Starfest, Mt. Wilson Observatory, Riverside Telescope Makers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Temecula Valley Astronomers, San Diego Astronomy Association, and the International Dark-Sky Association among others.

Visitors learn about the 200-inch Hale Telescope from a docent during a weekend tour. (Palomar/Caltech)

Outreach Resources

In serving these and other organizations, the core of our outreach community resides in a group of 40 who volunteer their time in support of the tours and other activities of Palomar's outreach program. In 2013:

  • Each year, the docents donate 2,400 or more hours of their time to the program;
  • More than 3,000 people participate in the public tours lead by the docents; and
  • Throughout the year, the Palomar docents give presentations about the Observatory to organizations throughout southern California.

Speaker Program

And, therefore, the Observatory can make speakers available to groups throughout the area. We tailor presentations to the interests of a particular audience. Even so, there is a standard set of discussion topics that includes the history of Palomar Observatory, the science of Palomar Observatory, and light pollution’s impact upon the Observatory and its neighbors.

For more information regarding this program, contact Steve Flanders at sbf [at]

Online Presence

The Universe as seen by the Palomar telescopes is available through Google Sky and Microsoft's World Wide Telescope. The digitized images of the photographic surveys conducted with the 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope provide a significant part of the optical wavelength imagery used by both virtual sky exploratory tools.

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Educational Partners / v 1.0
Last updated: 28 May 2015 SBF/ACM