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Welcome!

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.

14 thoughts on “Info

    1. $5 per person for the tour…camping is free, first come first serve no reservations. Bring your own water ((it is a dry camp) and pack out your trash. All this information and more is under the visiting part of our web site.

    1. Our largest visual observing telescope is a 1960’s era Boller and Chivens 24 inch classical cassigrain. We also have a newly refurbished 1950’s era 15″ Fecker cassigrain telescope. Both telescopes have just had their optical surfaces re-coated with enhanced aluminum coating called IBAD-96. This coating is an ion bombardment assisted deposition coating featuring greater than 96% average reflectivity across the visible spectrum and will give beautiful views visually. In addition to the 2 main observing scopes we also have a set of 20 X140 mm “big eye” binoculars off a Navy destroyer set up on a pier on the new juniper deck adjacent to the 15 building. In the viewing area in front of the 24″ telescope building there will be an array of 10-12 inch dobsonian telescopes manned by various volunteers and UO students. This viewing area in front of the 24 is where visiting astronomers set up their instruments to assist in our viewing programs throughout the summer.

  1. How far of a hike is it from the parking lot to the tent camp sites?

    Are there fire pits at the tent camp sites for us to use?

    1. The closest ones are about 100 feet and the furthest ones about 200 feet. Yes there are fire pits and picnic tables unless they have been moved. There should be a table and campfire ring in each of the 10 walk in sites.

      1. Thank you for your information. Are the picnic tables very hard to move? We will be bringing about 20 6th graders and 12 adults for a 1-night stay next Thu/Fri 5/21-5/22.

        We’ll have tents and wanted to be able to build fires for cooking and warming up a bit. I have been worried that the distance from the parking lot to the camp sites would be fair distance and make it a challenge for carrying our supplies and equipment to the tent sites. BUT – it sounds like this shouldn’t be much of a problem . . . maybe about a 3 min walk?

        Are there any pictures showing the camp sites and/or a map showing the camp sites in relation to the parking lot?

        Again – any info you can provide us will make it easier for us to know what to expect besides the fact that it will be incredibily COLD.

  2. For the four (4) 4 drive in sites (that can hold trailers up to 27 feet in length) . . . would it be OK to park minivans and pickup trucks at these four sites?

    Are these four drive-in sites very far from the tent camp sites?

  3. Thank you for your information. Are the picnic tables very hard to move? We will be bringing about 20 6th graders and 12 adults for a 1-night stay next Thu/Fri 5/21-5/22.

    We’ll have tents and wanted to be able to build fires for cooking and warming up a bit. I have been worried that the distance from the parking lot to the camp sites would be fair distance and make it a challenge for carrying our supplies and equipment to the tent sites. BUT – it sounds like this shouldn’t be much of a problem . . . maybe about a 3 min walk?

    Are there any pictures showing the camp sites and/or a map showing the camp sites in relation to the parking lot?

    Again – any info you can provide us will make it easier for us to know what to expect besides the fact that it will be incredibily COLD.

  4. The campground has a group camp area with plenty of tent sites located around the group area. It is designed for large groups with parking just a few steps away from several large picnic tables and a large group fire ring. We will make sure the group area is available for you so do not worry. I will provide a wheelbarrow to make it easier to access the hike in sites but with just 30 folks you should be able to set up close enough to your vehicles to make it not necessary.There is a single outhouse very nearby and 2 more porta potties on the observatory grounds 30 seconds walk away. 2 things to remember, bring plenty of water as there is no water available and pack out your trash. Fire wood is available by hiking around the camp area ind picking it up. If you want to bring a chain saw and get wood in the forest on your way up for your fires feel free to do so. Don’t forget to have a shovel, fire extinguisher and means to split wood (ax and maul).

  5. Do we need to be concerned about bears or other animals/rodents getting into any of our tents/containers that might have food in them?

    Does it get pretty gusty/windy up there?

  6. We have a 9 month old, can we bring her stroller to go to the observatory? Also what time do you need to be there to pay?

    1. Strollers are not a good option for this environment. The roads and trails are gravel and on a hillside. There are stairs between the domes and stairs going up to the 24″ telescope viewing area. Also having a stroller in the viewing area would be a tripping hazard for other guests due to the lack of lighting (we keep it dark to preserve night vision). Children under 4 or 5 are not a good idea for the facility. So if you must bring children that young they need to be in a front or rear pack.

    2. See Mark’s comment about the stroller. You can make a donation at any time that PMO is open for tours … we have donation boxes. Typical hours are from about 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. this time of year.

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