Mount Laguna Tours​

Mount Laguna Observatory Tour (Not available in 2024)

Date: Saturday, August 12, 2023
Time: 9AM/PST leave JSF; 10:30 AM/PST (at Observatory)
Location: Awona Harrington Visitor Center, SDSU, Galaxy Way, Mt. Laguna, CA 91948

The Mount Laguna Observatory is operated by San Diego State University as the primary research, teaching, and training facility of its Department of Astronomy. It is operated under Special Use Permit from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Current institutional partners include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the University of Kansas (KU).

The Observatory is located forty-five miles east of downtown San Diego on the eastern edge of the Cleveland National Forest at an altitude of 6100 feet (1859 meters). Just to the east is the Anza-Borrego State Park, which is the largest state park in the nation. This remote location remains one of the darker major observatory sites in the continental United States.

Mount Laguna is part of the Southern California Coastal Range, and as such benefits from smooth laminar air flow directly off of the Pacific Ocean, which results in steady atmospheric conditions (or “seeing”). When combined with its dark skies, Mount Laguna Observatory remains one of the truly excellent astronomical sites remaining in North America.

Your tour of Mount Laguna Observatory starts in front of the Awona Harrington Visitors’ Center. The three major research instruments are: the 50-inch (1.25-meter) Phillips Claud reflector with KU; the 40-inch (1.0-meter) reflector with UIUC; and the Clifford Smith 24-inch (0.6-meter) reflector. The Reginald Buller 21-inch (0.5-meter) visitors’ telescope is used for instructional support and for special SDSU public outreach programs. This classic telescope has superb optics for visual astronomy. A five-bedroom apartment building, four-bedroom dormitory, and large shop building are also located on site. Observatory support staff includes a resident astronomer, an engineer, and the observatory superintendent.

Directions from Julian StarFest to Mount Laguna Observatory:

START: 1150 Julian Orchards Dr, Julian, CA 92036
• Take Farmer Rd to Main St in Julian, 6 min (2.3 mi)
• Take Sunrise Hwy to Morris Ranch Rd, 31 min (22.0 mi)
• Continue on Morris Ranch Rd. Drive to Galaxy Wy, 3 min (0.7 mi)
ARRIVE: Harrington Center SDSU, Galaxy Wy, Mt Laguna, CA 91948