The Observatory is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights from MEMORIAL DAY weekend through the last weekend in September. Private group and organization tours are available during the week by advance appointment. Mid-week, the observatory staff conducts private tours in conjunction with various amateur astronomers, including several astronomical clubs from around the Pacific Northwest (for more information see Tours & Outreach). The observatory also conducts 1-2 research camps during the summer, bringing astronomers and students from all around the Western U.S. to teach and participate in programs.
In addition to astronomy visitors, the public is able to utilize the adjacent Forest Service campground for a number of recreational activities (for more information see Visiting). Some of these activities include: bird and wildlife watching, mountain biking, hang-gliding, hiking and horseback riding. Schools, scouts and other outdoor programs utilize the area for earth science classes in conjunction with the astronomy programs. On average, the Observatory summer programs provide educational tours of the night skies for 3500-4000 visitors annually.
Pine Mountain Observatory, located 34 miles south and east of Bend, is perched atop a mountain at an elevation of 6300 feet. The observatory’s location is well placed to make the most of the dark skies that the Eastern Oregon high desert provides.
The observatory is operated under the University of Oregon’s Department of Physics under special use permit from the Deschutes National Forest. The observatory’s primary function is research and other astronomical observations, including basic and advanced scientific research.