Siding Spring Observatory

The Siding Spring Observatory (SSO) is the largest optical observatory in Australia and is an important site for astronomy, astrophysics and space science in Australia. Along with several active telescopes owned by the Australian National University, the site is home to the Anglo Australian Telescope (AAT), many international research telescopes and commercially operated telescopes and is known as Australia's foremost optical and infrared observatory.

Siding Spring is one of two key sites for the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Australia (RSAA). The site sits at the summit of Mt Woorut, NSW, and is set within the stunning National Heritage Listed Warrumbungle National Park, around 30 kilometres from the town of Coonabarabran.

The location of the SSO and its extent of mid-sized telescopes is particularly valuable for institutional and commercial operators due to the lack of alternate facilities in this longitude.

  • Opened in 1964
  • owned by the Australian National University (ANU)
  • Situated 1,165 metres (3,822 ft) above sea level
  • Research carried out at SSO is varied, from probing the depths of the cosmos in search of 'Dark Energy' to searching the Milky Way for other planets and signs of life
  • selected by ANU from many other possible locations due to the dark and cloud free skies and the low risk of future light pollution

Have you seen something in the sky and would like to find out what it is? Why not Ask an Astronomer?

Visit us

Opening hours

The Dome Café and Visitors Centre are open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm except Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Please note: Siding Spring Observatory (SSO) is a working research facility and as such we are not open at night for public viewing. Siding Spring Observatory is closed to the general public after 4pm.

Entry fees to the Exploratory exhibition in the Visitor Centre are:

  • Adult $5.50
  • Child/Senior $3.50
  • Family $13.50

For more information, directions on how to get here and a map, please visit our contact page.

Tours

Tours for schools and groups of all ages can be organised at any time on request. A minimum group size of 15 applies for all prebooked tours.

Accommodation

The new Lodge offers 18 private ensuite double rooms, combined with a library, lounge and seminar room, offering spectacular views over the Warrumbungle National Park. Bookings can be made via the reservation request form

The park is a great place for camping, walking, birdwatching and, as Australia's only Dark Sky Park, it's perfect for stargazing. The Breadknife, easily the most recognisable feature within the park, towers 90m above the valley floor and is a symbol of the park's enduring importance and resilience. The Breadknife and Grand High Tops walk is recognised as one of the best walks in NSW, with close up views of the park's iconic rock formations.

Wildfires in 2013 marked yet another chapter in this great park's history. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPSW) has worked hard to rebuild its facilities for generations to come. Walking tracks, campgrounds and other visitor sites have been rebuilt with new modern facilities. Drop into the Warrumbungle Visitor Centre for park information or buy a star chart to enjoy our starry nights. A brand new visitor centre is expected to open in 2017.

Please note that overnight accommodation offering is restricted for research activities on the site.

History

Siding Spring Observatory has a rich history and many notable discoveries. Discover our history