Yukon Centre Observatory (YCO)

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 Observatory Update: (23 October, 2016)

Phase 2 is now complete!!

Observatory FAQ

Public Observing

Q: When can the Public visit the Observatory?
A: We anticipate the Yukon Centre Observatory will open to the Public by October 2017! That’s our Society’s New Year’s resolution…

Q: How much does it cost to visit the Observatory?
A: Admission is free! Donations are appreciated.

Q: Do I need to know anything about telescopes to visit?
A: No. You don’t need to know anything. We have volunteers who will show you how to look through the telescopes.

Q: Do I need to book an appointment to visit during public hours?
A: No. If you are visiting during our normal public hours, or during a special public event, you can drop in any time during the stated period. Normal public hours will be posted on our main webpage.

Q: The weather isn’t very nice. Will you still be open for public observing tonight?
A: Normally we will be open, even if it is raining or snowing. We won’t be able to see the stars, but scheduled talks will still take place. We also have lots of interesting displays and demonstrations. If the weather appears to be dangerous, then we will close. Closures will be announced on Facebook, our website, and on Twitter.


Q: What should I wear?
A: The telescopes are outside, and the dome is not heated. So wear warm clothes since it can get cold!

Q: Are high-heeled shoes appropriate?
A: No. The floors of the observatory’s dome is perfect for high heels to get caught in. Please wear flat bottomed shoes, since high heel shoes are dangerous in this environment.


Q: Is the observatory accessible to someone using a wheelchair?
A: Yes and No. The Assembly & Exhibit Building (AEB), and outside deck are wheelchair accessible. However, the dome is not wide enough to support a wheelchair, and there are stairs that do not make it accessible. However, please let us know ahead of time that someone with accessibility issues will be visiting, and we’ll get the secondary telescope (adjusted for wheelchair access) on the main pad in operation, and they will be able to observe the stars from there.

Public Lectures

Q: When do the public lectures take place?
A: Public lectures take place during the first half hour of the observing hour. For a full list of our events, please take a look at our calendar.

Q: Where do the public lectures take place?
A: The lectures take place in the AEB. This area will have seats, a multi-media large screen and sound system for presentations, and a hot beverage station (coffee/tea/hot chocolat) . For directions, see the “Directions” page on our website.

Q: Do I need a PhD to understand the lectures?
A: No! Our goal is that the lectures should be understandable to people with no prior knowledge of physics, or astronomy.

Bookings for Schools and Other Private Groups

Q: Can I bring my Grade 4 to 12 class to the Observatory on a field trip?
A: Yes! Our first priority is to host visits from Grade 4 to 12, since the Yukon curriculum has astronomy components  for these grades. If you are a Grade 4 to 12 teacher, please send us an email at yukonastronomicalsociety@gmail.com. You can book either a daytime visit to view the Sun, or an evening visit to see the stars.

Q: How many students can I bring on a field trip?
A: We can host up to 25 students on a visit. There should be at least 2 to 3 adults accompanying each class.

Q: Can I bring a different grade to the Observatory?
A: Yes, if we have a free spot in our schedule, we can book other grade school groups. Other equivalent-to-school groups like: home-school groups, Canadian Cadet Organizations, youth camps, and youth groups, Girl Guides, and Scouts are all welcome.

Q: Can I bring along a kindergarten class or a younger group of toddlers to the Observatory?

A: Yes. But please keep in-mind that young children (about 6 years and younger) have trouble looking through an eyepiece. They also often have trouble comprehending what they are seeing. We find that the observatory is not always suitable for very young children. It is up to the parent’s or teacher’s discretion.

Q: What is the cost to bring a class to the Observatory?
A: There is a flat charge to bring your class here for a visit. This is arranged between the school administration and the YCO. Groups must arrange their own transportation. School visits may be supported by the Yukon Education Department, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: Yukon Centre, and by other generous donors.

Q: Can I arrange to bring a group of adults for a private tour?

A: This depends on whether we have time slots available, and whether your group falls within our educational mandate. Please email yukonastronomicalsociety@gmail.com with a description of your group and event and a decision will be made. It is possible that we will suggest that you instead bring your group to our public observing hours.

Q: Do you rent out the Observatory for private events such as weddings?
A: We may permit this in the future, but our current land lease does not permit this. We could always try to get special permission though.


Q: What other fun astronomy-related activities are there on site?
A: There will be VR presentations of Apollo 11, space shuttle and a NASA Moon Base simulators.


Q: How do I donate to support your public education programming?
A: Visit the donation page on our webpage.

Q: What will donations be used for?
A: It costs us approximately $150 to host a grade school visit, or to send an astronomer to visit a class room as part of the Astronomical Program (AP). Donations allow us to keep our school programming accessible to everyone, regardless of income.