Rancho Mirage observatory

State-Of-The-Art Stargazing in the desert

Celebrity names on street signs in The Palm Springs Valley are commonplace, but head to Rancho Mirage Observatory to see the real stars. This new research-quality facility is now open to the public and free of charge to all.

There was great anticipation for this attraction before it officially opened on March 25, 2018. The excitement lead to an estimated 1,000 people attending the dedication ceremony and nearly 800 waiting patiently for their turn to tour the facility. While it may seem unusual to be attached to the Rancho Mirage Public Library, the City Council saw this as an opportunity to further enhance the library’s mission of lifelong learning. It is a natural expansion of the campus.

Much to do and view for Rancho Mirage Observatory visitors

The main telescope (PlaneWave Instruments CDK 700) is the “star” of the facility. With it, visitors are able to see large clusters of stars, nebulae, enormous clouds of gas and dust spread over vast regions of space and planets such as Mars and Jupiter. A full-time staff astronomer not only guides observations and stargazing events, but also builds programs, events, and guest presentations for individuals, groups and schools interested in astronomy.

Tours: Check out the observatory any weekday from 9:30 to 10 a.m. or 5 to 5:30 p.m. Additional tours will also be scheduled based on docent availability.

Programs: Held in the Library’s Community Room on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. (May 1, 15 and 29; June 5 and 19). Intended for all ages, topics will focus on many parts of our solar system and distant galaxies. Programs include films, videos, discussions, lectures and conversations with astronomy and science professionals from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Lab and other organizations.

Stargazing Parties: These events are limited to 40 attendees. Registration opens one week prior to the party and will be done online via website and e-blast for the following dates: April 17 and 19; May 8, 10, 12, 15, 17 and 19; June 9, 12 and 14. Visitors do not need their own telescope to participate. The Library & Observatory is in the process of purchasing four telescopes with cameras for everyone to enjoy. Those who wish to bring their own telescope and telescope camera can connect to one of four telescope pads.

Explore all the desert offers

Before or after gazing into galaxies far, far away, take in all that Rancho Mirage offers. Want to get closer to the heavens? Ascend 8,516 feet above the desert on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Venture through trails in Indian Canyons, visit the animals at The Living Desert, take a family trip to the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert, enjoy the art at The Palm Springs Art Museum or just take time to relax. There are a number of spas, shops, shows and restaurants suited to a variety of tastes to help you make the most of your visit.