photo courtesy: chad harder
Each summer the University of Montana’s Department of Physics and Astronomy hosts star gazing nights open to the public throughout the summer at the Blue Mountain Observatory. The observatory is perched at about 6,300 feet southwest of Missoula. Staff from the department are there to answer questions, and point out celestial wonders. The first open house will be tomorrow, Friday night on June 7th. The Friday evening stargazing nights will continue throughout the summer. Dates and estimated observing start times will depend on good weather and clear skies. Please call 243-5179 before going up!
- June 7, 10:30 pm (IF the snowbanks have melted up top!)
- June 14, 10:30 pm
- June 29, 10:30 pm
- July 12, 10:30 pm
- August 2, 10:00 pm
- August 9, 10:00 pm
- August 30, 9:15 pm
- September 6, 9:00 pm
Built in 1970 the Blue Mountain Observatory houses a 16″ Boller and Chivens f/18 Cassegrain telescope on a permanent, equatorial mount inside an Ash Dome. Electrical power is supplied by a generator housed in a separate building.
Directions: The observatory is located at the top of the Blue Mountain Recreation area southwest of Missoula. To reach the Blue Mountain Recreation area, turn west on Blue Mountain Road off of highway 93 south of Missoula. Turn left at the entrance to the Recreation Area and follow the dirt road for about ten and a half miles to an unsigned junction with an obvious road entering from the left. Take a sharp left (almost 180 degrees) onto this road, pass through an open gate, and proceed another two miles to the fire lookout at the top of Blue Mountain. Park there and walk east about 400 yards on the narrow dirt road that follows the ridgeline. The Observatory Dome should be visible as you get part way down the road. Please note that the gate 2 miles below the lookout will be locked at the end of the evening.