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Palomar Observatory

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Address: 35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
Phone Number: +1 760 742 2119
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Closed now
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Sun - Sat 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

Palomar Observatory, located atop Palomar Mountain in north San Diego...

Palomar Observatory, located atop Palomar Mountain in north San Diego County, California, is a center of astronomical research owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Observatory is home to three active research telescopes: the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope, the 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope, and the 60-inch (1.5-meter) telescope. The research is conducted by Caltech faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and students, as well as by researchers at collaborating institutions. Conceived of almost a hundred years ago, Palomar Observatory has been at the forefront of astronomical research since mid-century. Today, the observatory operates every clear night and is an iconic facility for scientific advancement, instrument development, and student training. The Observatory is a popular destination in Southern California and receives tens of thousands of visitors a year from all over the world. Most come to see the famous 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope-for decades the largest effective telescope in operation. Whether you are an astronomy, history, or engineering enthusiast, or simply curious about the Observatory, you will enjoy visiting our museum and taking one of our guided tours of the facility. All are welcome at the Palomar, but we ask that all visitors respect our rules and procedures. Public, guided tours of the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope are available to visitors on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday, start times are 11:00 am and 1:30 pm) spring through fall-typically from the first weekend in April to the last weekend October. The tours are roughly one hour long, and limited-availalbility tickets (sold exclusively on a day-of and first-come, first served basis) are required. Please plan accordingly.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 90 reviews
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See where we discovered the universe.

The observatory is history you can visit for what it has done, for what it is doing, and for what it will do. There have been functioning telescopes here since the 1930s and the... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed 1 week ago
Brendan K
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90 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 86: English reviews
Level Contributor
43 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago

The observatory is history you can visit for what it has done, for what it is doing, and for what it will do. There have been functioning telescopes here since the 1930s and the famous 200" Hall telescope has been searching the skies since 1949. From `49 till the mid `90s it was the largest optical telescope in the world.... More 

1 Thank Brendan K
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago

The Palomar Mountain observatory is home to one of the largest terrestrial telescopes in the world. It's situated fairly high up on Palomar Mountain, quite far off the beaten path. It's a bit of a trek to get there. The scenery here is beautiful, and the observatory is quite pleasant. There is a visitors' center that has exhibits showing some... More 

Thank WhiteCranePhoto
Clayton, North Carolina
Level Contributor
42 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We are from North Carolina and were not familiar with the location of Palomar Observatory and State Park, We discovered it quite by accident while staying in the area, The drive up is awesome and the views along the one lane roads in the park are almost thrill seeking! The wild flowers were in bloom and so pretty and the... More 

Thank DebMurphy57
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Great place and fun visit. 11 AM tour sold out so went for lunch and returned for 1:30 tour. Very educational.

Thank majabo
Level Contributor
55 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2016

Had a wonderful experience reading about the history of the observatory and seeing all the information about the discoveries made with this huge telescope. We happened to be in the public viewing room when a tour was going through and one of the docents came out and gave us a very informative talk about the observatory. Wonderful afternoon spent walking... More 

Thank InterNayt
Level Contributor
41 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2016

We missed the guided tour but did the self-guided one. Near the end we met one of the scientists who spent a long time explaining the work going on at the observatory. Didn't get his name but if he reads this, thank you. The road from Temecula was winding and quite a challenge in the fog. I suggest checking the... More 

Thank Mike D
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
46 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2016

Since I was 5 years old in El Salvador, I dreamed to visit El Monte Palomar. Finally my dream came true and it was the most incredible experience. The road to the Observatory is the most amazing view, all the flowers, the different tone of greens, the fresh air hummm it was so good. The tour is a must take,... More 

Thank Leticia G
Level Contributor
152 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2016

I have always wanted to see the observatory and a recent trip allowed me the time to do so. It is a long drive up the mountain - twisty road, but worth the trip. Bring a lunch and allow plenty of time to visit. There is a small, but excellent museum on the grounds. The docent was very helpful. The... More 

1 Thank hotspringqueen
upstate New York
Level Contributor
185 reviews
58 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2016

The observatory is really amazing. We visited as a day trip from San Diego. The drive is very beautiful and at the end as you zig zag up the mountain to the observatory. Gas up because there are not many nearby stations! There are also not a lot of places to eat so if I did this again I would... More 

1 Thank Memmett
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2016 via mobile

Not to understate how incredible the observatory is, but I also have to mention the drive up here as it was so much fun. We had Waze navigate for us from Temecula, and it was a gorgeous drive coming up from Pauma Valley. There were a lot of motorcyclists taking advantage of the twisting, winding roads the day we went.... More 

Thank Sammiches

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Boquete, Panama
9 months ago
Boquete, Panama
9 months ago

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