Visiting Palomar Observatory

Printer-friendly version of this page & the driving instructions

Visiting Hours

The Observatory is open daily except December 24 and 25. Visiting hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. while we are on Standard Time and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. while we are on Daylight Savings Time. The change to new visiting hours is made the Monday after the time change.

The Observatory will be closed if travel or other conditions are hazardous. Whenever possible, our Public Information Recording phone number (760) 742-2119 will be updated to reflect any closures.

Visitors should be aware that we may close the Observatory to the public due to weather or other unforeseen conditions without advance notice.

Palomar Observatory makes every effort to inform the public of our visitation status. Due to the uncertainties of our mountain environment, road conditions and our complex operations supporting our research mission, we can not guarantee that information presented on our website or phone information system will be accurate at the time when visitors arrive at our facility.

Visitors to the Observatory should be aware that dramatic changes due to weather such as ice, wind, fog and road debris is location specific and general information supplied by state, federal and local agencies may not reflect conditions near or at the observatory.

Visitors are strongly urged to pay close attention to signs indicating the Observatory's closure to visitors that may be posted on the bottom of South Grade Road (S-6), East Grade Road (S-7) and as the S-6 "summit" location approximately 4.2 miles south of the observatory. Please see our Driving to Palomar Observatory page for directions and information on any possible road closures.

Please see our Tours page for information about guided tours.   We do not offer guided tours every day that the Observatory is open to the public.  On most days, visitors are welcome to look around the designated public areas on their own, at their own pace.

To make your visit a bit easier we do have a podcast that explains what can be seen.
Click here to listen (right click to save to your computer) to the 10 minute (9.2 mb) audio tour.

Please note that the interior of the 200-inch dome is kept at nighttime temperatures (for an elevation of 5,500 feet!). Dress accordingly.

Public access to the 200-inch dome requires climbing 70 steps.  For those unable to climb steps, limited elevator access is offered at the 200-inch dome at 9:30 am, 1:00 pm, & 2:30 pm, using a small passenger elevator.  Wheelchair access to the 200-inch dome is not available at this time. 

The Observatory's Visitors Center is open whenever the Observatory is open, and is wheelchair accessible.  Currently on display are exhibits of astronomical photographs, discoveries made at Palomar Observatory, an exhibit on spectra, and more!  The Visitors Center also features the Palomar Observatory Gift Shop which is open on weekends and most weekdays.

The Palomar Observatory is an astronomical research facility.  As such, the Observatory grounds are closed to visitors after 4:00 p.m. Night-time visits cannot be accommodated without interfering with the scientific studies.

Public Information Recording: (760) 742-2119

Driving Instructions

The drive to the Palomar Observatory was featured in the Winter 2006 issue of Subaru Drive Magazine.