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“Palomar Observatory visit” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Palomar Observatory

Palomar Observatory
35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060-0200
760-742-2119
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: The observatory's telescope is capable of viewing up to 10 billion light-years away.
Alexandria, Virginia
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4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Palomar Observatory visit”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2014

We went on a Tuesday in January knowing no guided tour was available and arrived with only a couple cars in the parking lot. After spending a good amount of time in the visitor center we headed to the 200 inch Hale telescope. Shortly after walking the 70 steps to the telescope, a large group of firefighter 'hotshots' arrived and a docent came to give an excellent talk. Our group of four thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Visited January 2014
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54 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Tucson, Arizona
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Not worth the drive”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2014

I have visited several other professional observatories (Kitt Peak, Large Binocular Telescope and Fort Davis) and this was the least impressive. Of course Mt. Palomar is the most dated, having opened in about 1949. Note that tours are only on weekends and only from mid-April until the last weekend in October. One can visit the visitor gallery on your own to view the 200" Hale Telescope, but the lighting, which reflects off the plexiglass windows, almost makes it impossible to get a decent picture. It is an amazing telescope in size and the dome is huge! Displays are OK in the museum (see photo), but nothing special. The gift shop is very small and as a result has a limited inventory. All in all not worth the long drive (we came from Indio). Be sure to bring a lunch since there is nothing available at the observatory. About 5 miles down the mountain is Mother's Kitchen which has good Trip Advisor ratings.

Visited January 2014
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alexandria va
Top Contributor
99 reviews 99 reviews
33 attraction reviews
Reviews in 57 cities Reviews in 57 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
“Worth the drive”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2014

The road is windy up to 5500 feet elevation but the Observatory is worth seeing. Self-guided touring using models, picture displays and short film or animation features. The pictures of stars, super navas, and constellations are interesting. The observatory and staff have had significant roles in astronomy. This is good way to learn about it. Visitor center is wheel chair accessible but not the telescope.

Visited January 2014
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West Chester, Ohio
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Palomar Observatory worth the drive”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2013

We visited the Palomar Observatory in Sept. and it was a very interesting site. There was a drive up the mountain that was pretty. You need to arrive somewhat ahead of tour times in order to get tickets which are limited. The tour and info about this huge working telescope was very interesting. This was once the largest telescope in the world and was actually the place they discovered that Pluto is not a planet (it's a dwarf planet). Note that you are at a higher elevation and the temperatures were cool and it was windy. They keep the building housing the telescope at cool, night-time temperatures. We were very glad to have jackets.

Visited September 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
86 reviews 86 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
“in the hills, up 5000 ft, looking at amazing technology”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2013

The observatory belongs to the university, and is at the top of a 5000 foot climb. The views are incredible heading up. The twists and turns are perfectly manageable, and nothing like some of the ocean coastal twisty roads. No sheer drops off, just views of mountain tops and valley. Yes, the motorcycles love to race up, but so to the teams of road bikers. Be careful going around them. The Observatory itself is not a long stop but interesting to see. You can get inside the 200 ft dome. Its very well maintained and they have a glass partition so you can see all the mechanisms inside, including a cut away of the wheels to move the dome. For a broadcast geek, its like being inside a gigantic robotic camera head. It was cool inside, but didn't feel as cold as everyone was saying. We went at noon, so it will be cooler at night.

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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