SKY TOURS | LOOK THROUGH OUR RESEARCH-GRADE TELESCOPES

REFRESH YOUR SOUL WITH STARLIGHT

Julian's crystal clear mountain air is a perfect setting for this unique sky tour. During the hour of viewing in our observatory, planets, the Moon, hundreds of NGC objects, and multiple star systems are available to look at.

Each sky tour is unique and may include comets, asteroids, special events when observable, and any of the other 64,000 objects in the telescope's database. When guests stay the second night, special attention is made to show different objects than what was seen in the previous night's sky tour. Generally, about 12 objects are viewed in the hour, including a planet, open star cluster, globular cluster, nebula, planetary nebula, galaxy, several multiple/interesting star systems, and the moon when observable.

The tour begins with a laser guided, informative discussion under the night sky with an experienced astronomer pointing out the prominent stars and constellations. A brief explanation of how telescopes work is given and then the red lights are dimmed and the guided tour begins. Always feel free to ask questions.

This unique experience will leave you with a new perspective of the universe that we live in.

Please Note: Sky tours are also available to guests who choose not to lodge at Observer's Inn. The rate for the sky tour only is $30 per person. (advanced reservations required)

Special Dates in the Sky

Meteor Showers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Deep Sky Objects

January

Pleiades • M45 • Open Star Cluster
This spectacular, bluish group of stars also known as the seven sisters is responsible for the trademark of Subaru.

 

Crab Nebula • M1 • Supernova
This exploded star, recorded by the Chinese in the year 1054, could be seen as a bright star in the daytime for 23 days. Today's Crab Nebula contains a pulsar star spinning at 30 times a second.

Orion Nebula • M42 • Stellar Nursery
The most beautiful nebula of its kind. See swirls of gas and raw materials forming new stars and planets. A must see!

 

NGC 2403 • Galaxy
The brightest non-Messier galaxy in the Northern hemisphere. At about 8 million light years away, it is receding at about 112 miles per second. This galaxy could be said to be quite thought provoking!


February

Diamonds on Black Velvet • M37 • Open Star Cluster
With about 1900 members, this cluster truely looks like gems against the back drop of infinity.

Beta Monoceros • Triple Star System
Best triple in the sky. Imagine three suns in our sky!

Eskimo Nebula • NGC 2392 • Planetary Nebula
This exploded star is an example of what the future holds for our own Sun in about 5,500 million years. The white dwarf star remaining is one of the brightest known. A still frame of an explosion!

M79 • Globular Cluster
At a distance of about 43,000 lightyears and with the brightness equivalent to 90,000 Suns, this huge ball of stars is one of the best of its class in the winter skies.

March

Herschel 3945 • Double Star
Magnificently colorful double star system - blue and golden yellow. The larger star is 36 times the diameter of the Sun.

 

M81/M82 • Galaxies
One mostly face-on and the other edge-on, these two massive galaxies had a close encounter in the distant past. M82 shows a disruptive starburst at its core.

M46/NGC 2438 • Open Star Cluster with a Planetary Nebula
Mesmerizing open star cluster with an exploded star all in the same view. The planetary nebula is behind the cluster giving the viewer a feeling of dimension.

NGC 2169 • Open Cluster
Using an erecting prism, the number "37" can be seen written in the sky. Perfect for a birthday, anniversary, or just for fun.

 

April

NGC 3242 • Ghost of Jupiter
With a similar apparent size of Jupiter and a pale aqua blue disk, this nebula looks ghostly. At a distance of 3,300 light years, it's size is actually about 3.5 trillion miles in diameter.

M65/M66/NGC 3628 • Leo Trio of Galaxies
Between 22 million and 24 million light years from Earth, this is the best grouping of three galaxies in the sky. Majestically placed all in one eyepiece view.

M3 • Globular Cluster
One of the best in the sky. At 32,000 light years distant and about 220 light years in diameter, this globular contains more than 500,000 stars.

V. Hydra • Carbon Stars
One of the reddest stars visable. With a variable period of 531 days, it varies in brightness by at least 250 times. It looks like a ruby in space.

May

Sombrero Galaxy • M104 • Galaxy
This is an unbelievably massive spiral galaxy with at least 1.3 trillion stars! The light that we are now seeing from this galaxy began its journey towards Earth when the dinosaurs were becoming extinct; we are looking back in time 65 million years!

 

M5 • Globular Cluster
This is the brightest globular cluster in the northern hemisphere. The stars are some of the oldest known at 13 billion years. This cluster contains at least 750,000 stars.

Whirlpool Galaxy • M51 • Galaxy
This is the best example of a face-on galaxy. Its spiral arms can be easily traced on a dark night. Also in the same field of view is another interacting galaxy. Both are 15 million light years away. Since one light year is around 6 trillion miles, this galaxy is about 90 trillion miles away.

Cor Caroli (Alpha Canes Venatici) • Double Star
This is an elegantly colored double star. Most people see a bluish white and pair lilac pair. Edmund Halley named this star combination after King Charles II of England.

June

Hercules Cluster • M13 • Globular Cluster
Considered by most observers to be the most beautiful globular cluster in the northern hemisphere, it may be best described as a kaleidoscope of brilliant stars. This is the object that was targeted in 1974 when the people of Earth radioed a message about ourselves into space. Even at the speed of light, a return message wouldn't arrive back at Earth for another 50,000 years.

NGC 4565 • Edge-on Galaxy
An extraordinarily impressive example of a spiral galaxy much like our own Milky Way turned edge-on to our line of sight. It lies about 30 million light years away and gives us an idea of what we might look like to someone observing our own galaxy.

 

Cat's Eye Nebula • NGC 6543 • Planetary Nebula
An aqua-colored exploded star nebula with a visable white dwarf star at its core. Even though it appears small, its diameter is at least 20,000 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun (one third of a light year).

24 Coma Berenices • Double Star
Colorful blue and golden star system. An example of how the color of a star translates to temperature. From cool to hot: red, yellow, white, blue.

July

Ring Nebula • M57 • Planetary Nebula
Probably the most unique and most observed planetary nebula. Oval in appearance and about three trillion miles in diameter, it can be likened to a magical-looking smoke ring in the sky. Situated 1,140 light years from Earth, it is expanding into space at about 16 miles per second.

Double-Double • Epsilon Lyra • Multiple Star System
This star system is a test of both your vision and the telescope's ability to split stars. At first glance, you'll see two bright stars - but look closer and you'll see that each star is double captured in a gravitational dance, spinning around a common point. Quite a sight when you understand the dynamics!

Lagoon Nebula • M8 • Nebula
The best stellar nursery of the summer. View the immense clouds of stellar and planetary building blocks (gasses and raw material) as they coalesce into new solar systems.

Needle Galaxy • NGC 5907 • Galaxy
One of the thinnest edge-on galaxies, it is sometimes called the Silver Silver. Its distance from Earth is about 35 million light years, which means you are observing photons that were formed 35 million years ago.

 

 

August

Albireo • Double Star
An elegant looking pair, blue and golden in color. The golden star is 760 times brighter than our Sun; the blue star is around 120 times brighter. It is interesting to look at the seemingly small gap between them only to realize its distance is an astounding 400 billion miles.

 

Swan Nebula • M17 • Nebula
This nebula is also called the Omega, the Horseshoe, the Checkmark (a teacher's favorite), the Extended 2, and the Blackhole Nebula. Its appearance is that of an extended grey streak against a starry background. It is a 66 trillion mile long cloud which will form about 800-1000 Sun-sized stars with planets.

Dumbbell Nebula • M27 • Planetary Nebula
This exploded star system is situated 815 light years from the Earth and takes the shape of an hourglass, a bow tie, Batman's insignia, a snow angel, and - especially here in Julian - an apple core. The center of the exploded star is still visible. Exploded stars enrich the universe with the building blocks of life.

M22 • Globular Cluster
Of the approximately 150 known globular clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy, this is the closest to Earth at 10,100 light years. It is composed of beautifully resolved stars illuminated against a rich Milky Way field. This cluster is truly intriguing!

 

 

September

M11 • Open Cluster
A truly exceptional grouping of about 700 bright stars. This cluster has an appearance similar to that of a city when viewed from the sky - bright lights separated by dark lanes. Most people can't resist a "wow" on this one. A bright foreground star close to the center gives the observer a feeling of the third dimension.

Pegasus Cluster • M15 • Globular Cluster
This globular cluster has an extremely dense core with bright resolved stars on the perimeter. Situated 30,600 light years from the Earth and 160 light years in diameter, this cluster can be likened to a beacon.

Blinking Nebula • NGC 6826 • Planetary Nebula
Noticeably aqua in color, this nebula brightens as you look away (using averted vision) and then dims as you look directly at it.

 

NGC 7331 • Galaxy
One of the more distant objects that we view on a regular basis, this galaxy is located approximately 50 million light years from the Earth - 23 times the distance of the Andromeda Galaxy. This spiral galaxy has much in common with our own Milky Way. Several other galaxies can be seen in the same field. Viewing this object gives you a feeling of the vastness of this universe.

 

 

October

Andromeda Galaxy • M31 • Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest big spiral galaxy to Earth. It lies 2.5 million light years from Earth and contains at least 400 billion stars. This object takes up as much room in the sky as seven full moons placed side by side. However, only the bright center of this galaxy is visible with the naked eye. In the eyepiece you will notice two satellite galaxies: M32 and M110. This galaxy is travelling at 158 miles per second (almost 600,000 miles per hour) and is on a collision course with our own Milky Way Galaxy. In about 6 billion years, these galaxies will have some type of interaction. Don't worry - I said 6 billion years.

 

NGC 869/884 • Double Open Clusters
What a sight! Two sparkling open star clusters in the same field, each containing hundreds of bright stars. If the Sun was a member in one of these clusters (situated 7,000 light years from the Earth), it would be invisible in our telescopes.

Magic Star • Eta Cassiopeia • Double Star
Locked into a gravitational dance, this pair's fainter star is seen by some people to have a purple or violet hue - if so, it would be the only known star with this property. A real conversation starter.

Garnet Star • Mu Cepheus • Red-Giant Star
This is the reddest naked eye star in our sky. It is the 4th largest star known in our galaxy of 200 billion stars. It is so large that if it were placed at the center of our solar system, Jupiter would orbit inside it!

 

 

November

Almach • Gamma Andromeda • Double Star
A vivid blue and golden double star packed closely together are sometimes called the winter's Alberio. When slightly defocused, the color shows through and they look like two gems in space.

Sculptor Galaxy • NGC 253 • Galaxy
With dust lanes and mottling clearly visible, the Sculptor Galaxy is one of the most detailed galaxies in the sky. Even though it is approximately 6.5 million light years away, it fills the eyepiece with its distant light.

Owl Cluster • NGC 457 • Open Cluster
This is a fun cluster to look at because it appears to be looking back. By connecting the stars and using your imagination, this cluster looks like an owl with two very large eyes looking straight at you. This open cluster contains about 80 member stars.

 

M2 • Globular Cluster
At 37,000 light years from us this huge ball of at least 500,000 stars appears to be floating in the vastness of space. When viewing, you get a feeling of falling into this concentration of stars.

December

Barbell Nebula • M76 • Planetary Nebula
At 3,400 light years from Earth, this attractive and finely detailed planetary nebula is more than twice as far away as the similar shaped Dumbell Nebula. Though the Dumbell Nebula appears larger because it is nearer to Earth, the two nebulae are approximately the same size.

M35 • Open Cluster
With 500 member stars at a distance of 2,700 light years, this is one of the best in the sky. The glimmering white hot stars shine brightly against the deep black background. A second open cluster is visible in the same field. NGC 2158 is the same size but six times further away. This gives a nice, three dimensional appearance.

Rigel • Beta Orionis • Double Star
An enormous blue giant star with a small companion star. Even from 900 light years away, this powerhouse of a star is the 7th brightest star in our sky. This supergiant is 57,000 times more luminous than the Sun! If Rigel could be moved to the distance of Sirius (the brightest star in our sky), it would be as bright as the full Moon!

NGC 891 • Spiral Galaxy
At about 43 million light years away, this galaxy is seen edge-on with a large dust lane and stellar foreground. Very attractive deep sky galaxy.

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