Visiting the Observatory with young children


We truly enjoy having children visit us, especially when they are interested in astronomy, the telescopes, or the views through the telescopes. Here are some tips to make your child’s visit to the observatory more valuable to them:

We welcome questions from children and have found that kids ask some interesting and important questions. (Don’t worry, parents, we welcome your questions, too!)

Some of our programs are more lecture style programs and some of them are more active. The Solar Viewing program and some of our cloudy Star Party presentations are more likely to be lecture style programs. The Twilight Programs are not strictly lecture programs but contain a major lecture component. In a lecture setting, please try to keep your children quiet so that others may hear what is being presented.

Our Special Viewing nights are long, sometimes cold and focus on viewing through research telescopes. The Special Viewing nights are not appropriate for children under age 10. Programs at the Visitors Center (Solar Viewing, Guided Tour, Twilight Program, and Star Party) are more appropriate for all ages.

Please keep your children with you. This is especially important during the Star Party when it is dark, sometimes crowded, and might be difficult to find people. Please try to keep them from running, especially when it is dark or almost dark. Our ground here is rough and rocky. Please do not allow them to climb the stone walls.

We are in the Chihuahuan Desert and are surrounded by desert inhabitants. There are desert plants here on the grounds of the observatory that may have stickers (cactus and agave). There are desert animals in this area, too. Once the weather gets warm, keep an eye out for snakes on paved areas once the sun has set. If you encounter wild animals, please remember that they are wild and should not be approached.

Shoes that light up are fun! But when the lights are too bright, they interfere with other people’s enjoyment of the star party. We will offer to cover up the shoe lights with removable tape.

When you have been traveling and the location is different, the food is different, and the people are different, sometimes kids can get cranky. Your child might not have an easy time staying quiet during our more lecture-style activities (Solar viewing, sometimes Twilight Program, and some of our rainy night indoor activities.) If your child becomes too disruptive, we might request that you take the child to a different location so that our other patrons may enjoy the lecture. Inside the visitors center exhibit hall, there is a short slide that some little kids really enjoy.

Know Before You Go

Dress warmly (especially for evening programs) and bring your reservation confirmation with you. The Visitors Center is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Time (and additional hours on Star Party nights) every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. The phone number is 432-426-3640.

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Visiting with young children
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