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Public Open House Tours

Come Visit the Observatory!

Public Open Houses are an exciting way for the Queen's Observatory to give back to the Kingston community by sharing our knowledge and facilities to inquiring minds young and old. Our guests are invited to come and experience free of charge the wonders of our Universe from the smallest planets to the largest galaxies! The first part of the Open Houses consist of a presentation on an interesting topic that is accessible to all, for about 30 minutes. After the talk, and weather permitting, we head upstairs to tour the 14-inch telescope in the dome atop Ellis Hall and do some observing! Even if the weather is not favourable and we are not able to do any observing, tours of the facilities upstairs are still offered for those who are interested.

Our Open House events occur once a month, on the 2nd Saturday of every month, all year round, unless otherwise noted. They do not require registration: just show up and join the fun! Due to strict fire regulations, we are limited in the number of people that can be present on the 4th floor of Ellis Hall, and in the dome where our telescope is located. To handle this, we will issue a tour number ticket upon arrival on a first-come first-served basis, with priority given to groups with young children. Everyone that comes out will get to tour the facilities. However, on evenings with especially large turnouts, it may take longer than an hour after the talk for all tours to be completed. We have several other exciting stations to participate in before going to the observatory, including the McDonald Institute Visitor Center and several smaller telescopes to do more observing with.

In the unlikely event that we get over 200 visitors, we will not be able to show everyone the observatory. However, we will ensure that you get to see the astronomer talk in a satellite auditorium.



Next Open House:
Saturday, July 13th



Guest Speaker: Ben Tam
Title: Probing the Origins of the Universe
Talk Begins: 9:00 pm
Location: Ellis Hall Auditorium
Observing Activities: View planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies in our 14-inch dome telescope. Peruse our outdoor observing deck with several telescopes and high power binoculars, touring Kingston's night sky.

Cost: FREE!


The start times of the Open Houses, which occur once a month, on the second Saturday of the month, change throughout the year. Here are the scheduled times of these events:


April: 8:00 - 9:30pm
May to August (inclusive): 9:00 - 10:30pm
September: 8:00 - 9:30pm
October to March (inclusive): 7:30 - 9:00pm



When reading the clear dark sky chart there is a 24h clock time along the top and each row gives useful information, the most impotant ones can be read as follows. The "Cloud Cover" row is white for cloudy and blue for clear. The "Darkness" row is white for daytime and dark blue for night time. The "Seeing" row is white for blurry skies and blue for clear skies.