Museum open Weds–Mon, Sea Center on Stearns Wharf open daily; both 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

Palmer Observatory


The Palmer Observatory typically opens for special events and programming, but will be open more regularly while the Museum's Space Sciences exhibit and Planetarium are under construction. Museum guests can join us for solar viewing and dynamic demonstrations at Palmer Observatory on weekdays from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, and weekends from noon to 4:00 PM.

Star Parties

Typically, on the second Saturday of each month from dusk to 10:00 PM, the Palmer Observatory hosts a Star Party organized by the Museum and the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit. This free event welcomes the public to view and learn about the night sky using both traditional telescopes and the 20-inch telescope in the observatory. Visit our calendar to look for details about upcoming parties.

There's more beyond the Star Parties: check out all our Astronomy Programs.

Solar Viewing

Solar viewing in the observatory can be an exciting bonus to daytime visits when staff or volunteers are available to offer safe views of the Sun! Solar viewing opportunities at the Museum are most common in summer, and typically not offered during December and January due to the low position of the Sun on the horizon. 

Observatory History

The Museum’s Doris Faye Palmer Observatory opened on August 1, 1968. In 2013, a 14-foot 6-inch, 2,250-pound re-purposed Ash-Dome was donated to replace the Observatory roof. That same year, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGTN) donated a 20-inch RCOS Ritchey-Chrétien Telescope and PlaneWave mounting system. The Ash-Dome was installed on August 12, 2015 and features a telescope-viewing opening that rotates a full 360 degrees.