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Palomar Observatory

35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
+1 760-742-2119
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A Piece of History

In the 1930’s, before electronics took over much of the world, astronomers studied the heavens by... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Frank C
,
Portland, Oregon
via mobile
Can I give this place a 6 out of 5?

We LOVED our tour of Palomar Observatory. All three docents were excellent, knowledgeable... read more

Reviewed 3 weeks ago
Hugh K
,
Silver Spring, Maryland
Read all 134 reviews
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Palomar Observatory, located atop Palomar Mountain in north San Diego County, California, is a center of astronomical research owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Observatory is home to three active research telescopes: the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope, the 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope, and the 60-inch (1.5-meter) telescope. The research is conducted by Caltech faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and students, as well as by researchers at collaborating institutions. Conceived of almost a hundred years ago, Palomar Observatory has been at the forefront of astronomical research since mid-century. Today, the observatory operates every clear night and is an iconic facility for scientific advancement, instrument development, and student training. The Observatory is a popular destination in Southern California and receives tens of thousands of visitors a year from all over the world. Most come to see the famous 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope-for decades the largest effective telescope in operation. Whether you are an astronomy, history, or engineering enthusiast, or simply curious about the Observatory, you will enjoy visiting our museum and taking one of our guided tours of the facility. All are welcome at the Palomar, but we ask that all visitors respect our rules and procedures. Public, guided tours of the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope are available to visitors on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday, start times are 11:00 am and 1:30 pm) spring through fall-typically from the first weekend in April to the last weekend October. The tours are roughly one hour long, and limited-availalbility tickets (sold exclusively on a day-of and first-come, first served basis) are required. Please plan accordingly.
  • Excellent50%
  • Very good40%
  • Average8%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible0%
Travellers talk about
“guided tour” (18 reviews)
“gift shop” (21 reviews)
Closed Now
Hours
Hours Today: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
LOCATION
35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
CONTACT
Website
+1 760-742-2119
Write a ReviewReviews (134)
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"guided tour"
in 18 reviews
"gift shop"
in 21 reviews
"beautiful drive"
in 8 reviews
"cal tech"
in 5 reviews
"inch telescope"
in 4 reviews
"behind glass"
in 3 reviews
"worth the trip"
in 8 reviews
"visitors' center"
in 3 reviews
"space exploration"
in 3 reviews
"small museum"
in 6 reviews
"day trip"
in 8 reviews
"national forest"
in 3 reviews
"picnic area"
in 4 reviews
"windy road"
in 2 reviews
"inside the building"
in 2 reviews
"answering questions"
in 2 reviews
"pack a lunch"
in 2 reviews
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1 - 10 of 129 reviews

Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

In the 1930’s, before electronics took over much of the world, astronomers studied the heavens by looking through telescopes and taking pictures. The 200 inch mirror at Palomar was the high water mark of single pour mirrors. It took months to slowly cool before beginning...More

Thank Frank C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We LOVED our tour of Palomar Observatory. All three docents were excellent, knowledgeable, approachable, and friendly. The tour brings visitors right inside of the observatory and explains just about everything that one could ever want/need to know about the place and its role in scientific...More

Thank Hugh K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

The map shows quite a few buildings at Palomar, but only the interpretive center with gift shop and the telescope are open, unlike Mt. Wilson where there is a lot to see. It is free. The telescope building is kept cold, so bring a jacket....More

Thank grip652
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 16 April 2018

It's really inspiring to learn that there are three active telescopes at Palomar Observatory. We would have liked to take a tour but we were there before the 11a tour and did not want to wait around. It is amazing to take a walk around...More

Thank riaona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2018

The mirror of the 200-inch telescope atop Palomar Mountain is the greatest and finest piece of glass ever made by human beings. The story of the telescope and its history-making astronomical observations is well-told in the visitors center, and seeing the telescope itself behind glass...More

Thank Joe G N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 December 2017

Went to see more about this giant telescope. The road up to the observatory is quite windy so make sure to take your time going up. The view on the way up is spectacular. The park has strict closing hours so make sure to pay...More

Thank gm_traveler_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2017

It makes me proud and happy of having visited it. It was in my bucket list. The mountain is gorgeous, the air clear and pristine (unbelievable in Southern California!). The dome is huge. Parking is ample, and they sell delicious Mount Palomar Spring H2O for...More

Thank alberto927
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 November 2017

The road up the mountain to the observatory was a very nice drive. The walk to the observatory was not too far and make sure to read the signs about the rattle snakes. There are steps up to the restrooms and to see the actual...More

1  Thank cherylsU6752DF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 November 2017

Went there on a weekday, it's a nice half-day trip from Oceanside. Absolutely nothing going on at the main telescope building. The museum has all kinds of interesting exhibits and explanations and fun souvenirs. Booking a tour of the main scope seems smart. Best air...More

Thank greggo8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 November 2017

I was fortunate to be part of a school group that had a private tour of the observatory. The guide was excellent; a retired engineer and amateur astronomer, he was able to provide an in-depth explanation of the observatory, its construction, the manufacture of the...More

Thank Dale W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Ask a question
Questions & Answers
miriamdklausner
10 May 2018|
AnswerShow all 3 answers
Response from Hugh K | Reviewed this property |
I believe that, year-round, they offer their tours on weekends only. They do two of them per day and each tour is restricted to 20 or 30 people (30 according to our docents, but 20 according to the person who took the money... More
0
Votes
Irene H
18 October 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from Palomar O | Property representative |
Hi Irene. I'm afraid you cannot. In fact, no one can look through it anymore since all eyepieces were removed decades ago. Hardly any research telescope allows anyone look through it (astronomers work behind computers since... More
0
Votes
tomladuke
30 April 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from 296pat | Reviewed this property |
I don't think so the only think that may be difficult is to climb up the observatory theres a lot of stairs to climb. But it is a nice area for walking around maybe check out the shop there.
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