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Public Observing

Summer 2014 Public Observing Nights

Star trails and observatory

The growing popularity of Blue Mountain Observatory open house nights has prompted the University of Montana to implement some changes. The next public nights are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 22, and Friday, Sept. 19.

“While we love that so many are excited about exploring our beautiful universe, we are going to experiment with some changes that we hope will help us keep the experience a memorable one for all,” said Diane Friend with the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy, who helps organize the public viewings.

The open house nights will remain free and open to everyone, but UM hopes to limit the number of people coming up on any given night. Attendees are asked to reserve a free ticket for each person in their group via Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blue-mountain-observatory-open-house-tickets-12579809549. If you wish to donate to the observatory for repairs and staffing during open houses, visit the observatory’s UM Foundation donation page at http://cas.umt.edu/physics/Donate.php.

“We will also be stationing a parking attendant at the lookout to direct parking and answer questions,” Friend said. “We hope that this will help mitigate the congestion that many have experienced lately. We encourage guests to carpool whenever possible.”

Lastly, to insure the open house nights remain safe and pleasurable for all, no alcohol will be allowed.

Explore planets, nebulae and distant galaxies during free public observing nights this summer at the Blue Mountain Observatory. The events are family-friendly, and children are welcome.

The observatory, located on top of Blue Mountain at an elevation of 6,300 feet, is operated by The University of Montana. 

Astronomers will be on hand at all events to talk about constellations, how the night sky figures into different cultures and how to find interesting celestial objects with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars.

Observing begins about an hour after sunset, and we recommend bringing warm clothes for cool evenings and a small flashlight for the walk from the observatory to the parking lot.

Viewing nights will be canceled only if the sky is cloudy or thunderstorms threaten. Before heading up to the observatory, call 406-243-4299 for weather and cancellation updates.

Following is the schedule with approximate starting times:

July 25 10:15pm

August 22 9:30pm

September 19 8:45pm