The 82-inch (2.1m) Otto Struve Telescope was the second largest in the world when it was dedicated in 1939. Today, the 82-inch remains a sought-after telescope due to its size and its location under some of the darkest night skies still available to research observatories in the continental United States. Although astronomers sometimes wait months to use this telescope to investigate the cosmos, you can sign up today for some of the most awe-inspiring telescopic views to be had anywhere in the world. The 82-inch Special Viewing Night is truly a one-of-a-kind program.
With low levels of illumination, step-ladders, and a duration of 3 to 3.5 hours, this program is not suitable for young children and may not be for those with mobility issues. This program requires moderate physical agility and ability to ascend/descend an (up to) 8-step staircase-type step ladder in addition to climbing two flights of stairs to reach the dome floor of the 82" Telescope. The 82-inch dome is NOT wheelchair accessible. The current program fee is $125 per person (no senior, military, student, etc., discounts.) (Fee subject to change w/o notice.)
Because the 82" Telescope is located at the summit of Mt. Locke, you will be leaving your vehicle at the Visitors Center and will be shuttled by the program host to the summit. This means that there will be no opportunity to retrieve a forgotten jacket or other items. This also means that leaving the 3-3.5 hour program early is not an option. Please keep this in mind when making your plans. It is NOT possible to participate in both a Star Party and a Special Viewing Night program on the same night.
This program is not suitable for children under 10. Our Special Viewing Night programs are designed for adults and more mature children. We ask that you do not plan to bring along children under 10 for any of these more exclusive programs. Participants with young children who are not appropriate for the program may be asked to leave.
Waiting lists are available via our reservation system (see below). However, cancellations are rare for our Special Viewing Nights so you may be better off planning for a different date than waiting for a cancellation on an already sold out program. Below, you'll find the available dates through December 2019 (dates through March 2020 are in the works). The programs you see scheduled below are the only dates currently available for the November & December 2019 period. Adding a waiting list request for other dates will not result in a program being added for those dates. Dates for our Special Viewing Night programs are posted according to the research needs for which these telescopes were built. The research schedules are posted in the first half of March for the April - July period, the first half of July for the August - November period, and the first half of November for the December - March period.