Can the Public Visit Pine Mountain Observatory?

YES! We welcome visitors on Friday and Saturday evenings (we’re closed Sundays) from late May through last Friday/Saturday in September, weather permitting. Please let us know in advance if you plan to bring a group of over eight people. Programs commence at 900 PM through mid-summer, then move back to 830 PM and 800 PM start times by September as darkness falls earlier. We encourage a $5.00 donation per person. We may be able to arrange visits at other times by advance reservation. Skies need to be clear, "Dark Moon" weekends are best. Virtual tour at .

Where is Pine Mountain Observatory?

PMO is about 30 miles southeast of Bend, in Central Oregon. Take State Highway 20 east from Bend, toward Burns. 26 miles from Bend, just beyond the tiny Millican store (no gas available!), turn right (south) on the dirt road and follow it to the top of Pine Mountain, about 8 miles. This is about an hour's drive from Bend. Be sure you have enough fuel to return to Bend, and be sure to bring warm clothing and perhaps some non-alcoholic beverages in case you get thirsty.

PLEASE CALL (541) 382-8331 (PMO-on Bend exchange) FOR INFO/RESERVATIONS and to schedule visits of classes/groups to PMO.

Map to Pine Mountain Observatory
ODOT Highway Information

What can I Expect When I Visit Pine Mountain Observatory?

At sunset, viewing of the Moon and bright planets if available in sky commences. There may be a digital slide program inside the 32” telescope building or outside near the 24” dome, about a variety of current topics. Visitors can begin to tour the large telescopes and to learn what objects will be shown during the night. Be sure to pick up a free Sky Map. After dark, tour-guides show visitors objects through the various telescopes, CCD Cameras, and a pair of giant binoculars, and point out various objects of the night sky visible with naked eye.

As you view objects, tour-guides explain in detail about what you see. The 24" telescope is the prime visual telescope for visitor viewing and has a piggybacked CCD Camera to create wide-field images. There will often be an 18” semi-portable telescope set up outside to view through, plus several other smaller portable telescopes set up nearby. The 32” telescope down the path to the east is used for research Sunday through Thursday, its configuration with a camera at prime focus precludes its use for visual observing.

The historical 15” telescope down the stairs at the mid-level of the facility is being disassembled to make way for our new 14” automated telescope/camera. We hope to have the 15” set up in our new Education Center in a few years.

Check at the greeting center/gift shop for a selection of CDs/DVDs about astronomy plus many other souvenirs and educational items. We offer a free handout sheet about general astrophysics plus projects that you can do observing the sky. If the sky stays clear, we often stay up all night viewing! Often some of the tour-guides set up their personal telescopes for guest viewing, some of the scopes are larger than the telescopes in the domes! Amateur astronomers are welcome to bring their own telescopes and binoculars, electrical power is available.

Is There a Place to Camp Overnight?

Yes, a primitive Forest Service Public Campground, first-come-first-serve is just across the road from PMO and rarely full. No fees. Open fires are regulated by danger levels set by the Forest Service. Bring water to drink and extra water to douse campfires.

Please note that the nearest hotels are in Bend, approximately a half-hour drive from the Observatory

What Precautions are Recommended?

PMO is 6300 feet high, therefore, temperatures can get below freezing even on summer nights. Please bring warm clothing! The buildings are separated by natural mountain terrain and stairs, and the buildings contain stairs. Please wear protective footwear and expect to climb steps. You should bring a SMALL flashlight to help you find your way in the dark, but try to provide a red colored shield for your flashlight, to protect everyone's night vision. We welcome children (grade school and up), but small children and infants will probably not be comfortable in this environment.

Educational and Connectivity Information for Pine Mountain Observatory

Contact Rick Kang, Friends of PMO, 541-683-1381, Eugene

SCIENCE is Discovery: Asking Questions, Taking Data, and Forming Rational Conclusions. Modern ASTRONOMERS (ASTROPHYSICISTS) take data while sitting at workstations often far away from the actual telescope...YOU are invited to join these modern OBSERVERS, to make your own discoveries!

Objects in the Universe are separated by vast distances, many LIGHT-YEARS. Astronomers need high-tech tools to GATHER, RECORD, and ANALYZE the faint light (few photons) from these distant objects. TELESCOPES use large mirrors to GATHER the light. CHARGE-COUPLED-DEVICE (CCD) CAMERAS efficiently electronically RECORD faint light to produce mosaic-like DIGITAL images of distant targets. Exposures of only several SECONDS reveal objects invisible to the eye. COMPUTERS ANALYZE the digital images by modifying contrast and measuring intensities of the collections of pixels. Detail literally POPS OUT on the CRT screen! Positions and brightness are readily measured. Digital files are easy to store and send via DISC or INTERNET, offering anyone easy access to authentic data.


See "Info for Teachers & Students" area on the Friends of PMO web site. We encourage teachers to visit PMO and to bring their students. We offer staff development seminars and classroom outreach to acquaint teachers and students with basic astronomy, modern technology, and our CCD Digital Observing Project (CCDDOP) where students take actual scientific data from the sky, using INTERNET to remotely operate a CCD Camera mounted on a large telescope. You need TIMBUKTU communications software from Netopia to use CCDDOP, and there is a $20 user fee for imaging sessions. Contact Rick, 541-683-1381, about outreach/remote imaging, Contact Mark, 541-382-8331, to schedule tours of PMO.

What Image Processing Programs/Image Formats are Available?

Richard Berry's Astronomical Image Processing (AIP) software is excellent for WIN platforms. Professor Bothun is developing a JAVA applet for handling FITS images via the Web to allow access by MAC users. Images are primarily in .STx or FITS format. Archived images are posted in GIF format on our web site.

Who runs the visitor's program?

Friends of Pine Mountain Observatory (FOPMO), a group of dedicated volunteer amateur astronomers, primarily from Bend, Eugene, and Portland, serve as Tour-Guides and also operate the classroom outreach program. Many Friends contribute important material, skilled labor, and financial resources. We are always looking for new people to get involved, and we offer an extensive training program.

Send $35.00 (suggested annual enrollment fee, more if you can) made out to Friends of PMO to: