Milky Way Nights at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Late night observing for the public

Thursday August 9, 10pm to 2am

Friday August 10, 10pm to 2am

Saturday August 11, 10pm to 2am

See astronomers in their nature habitat, under dark moonless skies. Late night public observing is a unique opportunity to see deep sky objects such as planetary nebula and globular clusters.

The Perseid Meteor Show is forecast to put on a great show in the night sky. Please note that although the Perseid Shower will also be active on Sunday night, we are only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

In the sky – A summer salad of planets with Venus, Mars and Jupiter travelling across the sky.

Admission is a donation to the RAO.


We welcome you to our Milky Way Nights events, below are frequently asked questions by our visitors. If you have any questions, please contact us at (403)931-2366

  • The RAO will be opens to the public during Milky Way Night events. During the rest of the month we conduct school and youth group programming.
  • Milky Way Nights are a drop in, there is no requirement to pre-register.
  • Gates open at 10pm until 2am.
  • Entrance fee: is a donation to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory. All proceeds go towards our educational programming. We welcome these donations to our educational programs and the RAO provides programs that explore sky science, light, optics and space exploration. The RAO also offers programming for youth groups including Schools, Scouts, Guides and Seniors. We are your guide to the universe with programs that are offered during the day or in the evening and your support is greatly appreciated.
  • We accept cash, debit, or credit.
  • Parking is limited and we encourage you to carpool.
  • When you arrive at the observatory, please follow directions from parking attendants.
  • If the sky is clear we will feature outdoor sky tours on the terrace.
  • Please, please, please slow down and watch your step while outside on the observatory grounds. The site is very dark and there several places where there is uneven ground. Take your time and watch your step.
  • We have a small giftshop which sells packaged snacks, pop and water and will be open until 1am.
  • The observatory is wheelchair accessible, however, please be advised there is uneven ground, limited parking and unlit areas.
  • Observing with the telescopes depends on the weather. The telescopes see the same light as you. If there are clouds in the sky or too much humidity we are not able to use the telescopes. You can check our all sky camera before you head out to the observatory. It is located on the home page of this website and it provides current observing conditions.
  • Telescopes are in the observatory buildings as well as on the terrace on the south side of the interpretive centre. Looking through a telescope is a fine art. Please only use your eyes and do not touch the telescopes. A slight touch on a telescope will change its alignment. Talk with astronomers about what you can see is in the telescope and what you should be looking for, we love your questions.
  • There is No flash photography inside the domes.
  • Children are welcome. The event is open to families and people of all ages. The telescope viewing and activities are geared towards children eight years old and up. Please note that the ground and walkways are very uneven so it is difficult to maneuver a stroller.
  • Flashlights are welcome, red is preferred which allows you to maintain your night vision and does not affect the telescopes. If you do have a white light flashlight, we ask that you try your best to keep the light on the ground. The bright light of a flashlight aimed at someone’s eyes in the dark can be painful and also the bright light makes it difficult to see through the telescopes.
  • If you have any questions or concerns during Milky Way Nights, please bring them to the front desk located in the Interpretive Centre and we will do our best to assist you.
  • The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is owned and operated by the University of Calgary. The observatory site is private land and we are only open to the public during the posted event times.

Source: UofA – Rothney Astrophysical Observatory