Visiting the Observatory

Visiting the Observatory

We announce closures 60-minutes prior to the event schedule.  Please check our calendar before you leave.  

Our Calendar
Etiquette: The Community Observatory is located on school property. This means: no drugs, no tobacco, and no alcohol, period! We thank you for your cooperation in this effort.

The Community Observatory is located on an isolated parcel of land away from city lights and the noise of city life. On any evening one can hear many wildlife sounds like frogs croaking, crickets chirping, owls screeching, coyotes howling, and geese honking as they fly high overhead. This quiet location is perfect for a relaxing evening of enjoyment and fun.

Telescope observation is also a quiet activity that takes intense concentration. The observer and staff will be having quiet conversations about what is being observed in the telescope. Other staff and visitors may be viewing photographs taken with the telescope and being displayed on attached screens or computers. Still other visitors will be outside viewing the skies with binoculars, more observatory telescopes, or their own telescopes. If you think quiet and act quiet, you will fit right in. The Observatory is also a "no cell phone zone" due to the illumination they create.

On Public Evenings (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights), there is no fee for parking.  On other nights (Monday through Thursday), normal parking regulations (and fees) apply.  The Observatory is fully accessible to our disabled visitors.  There is parking right at the Observatory for the disabled.  For disabled access on Public Evenings, please call (530) 344-5707 during operating hours on the night of your intended visit. 

Our Observatory is located in Placerville, California at about 1,600 ft. elevation. The Observatory will be open during the summer months and during the winter when it is not cloudy or humidity isn't too high. The Observatory has no heat. It's unique design allows the entire roof to slide away so that the telescopes inside, and you, can see the sky. As a result, the temperature inside the Observatory will be about the same as the outside temperature. The Observatory building itself may often be so filled with people that many will have to wait outside, so dress as if you were going to be outside, not in a building.

During the summer months, the evenings can be either quite warm or very cool. Dress comfortably for typical summer evening and night activities. BUT, always bring along a jacket or sweater in case it turns cool. You can leave your jacket or sweater in the car and retrieve it if you get cold. It is also suggested that men, women, boys, and girls wear long slacks, even during the summer months. If it turns cold, you will become cold quickly if you are wearing shorts or dresses.

The winter months are some of the best months for Observatory activities.  However, it will almost always be cold and often near freezing. It is important that you dress warmly! Dress as if you were going skiing or as if you were going up to play in the snow. Dress with several layers of clothing so that you can add or remove layers to make yourself comfortable.  Bring along warm gloves to keep your hands warm and a cap to keep your head warm.

We guarantee you that you will have a miserable experience at our Observatory if you are freezing the whole time you are here. There are no cozy campfires and no heaters. Plan ahead and fill your car with plenty of winter clothing for you and all of your family, and you will have an enjoyable observing experience.

On cold, winter evenings you may be tempted to get in your car for a warm up. Please exercise extreme caution if you are sitting in your car with the motor running. You may be at extreme risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if you have even the slightest leak in your exhaust system. We advise you avoid this practice altogether.
ADA Accessibility

The observatory is fully accessible to disabled visitors. There is parking right at the site. For disabled access on Public Evenings, call (530) 344-5707 DURING operating hours on the night of intended visit.  Or send us a message Monday - Friday 8 am - 5 pm via the Contact Us link.

The Community Observatory can get busy.  If we are open and no one answers the phone on your first call, please call again or have an assistant walk up to the building to request a docent for assistance.    
Call for Handicap Assistance
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