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Outreach & Tours

The Allan I. Carswell Astronomical Observatory has been a prominent hub for science outreach to the broader community since 1969. Prior to the pandemic, about 5,000 visitors a year visited the Observatory for public viewing on Wednesday nights; online public viewing opportunities have replaced in-person visits for the time being and have also expanded to increase engagement. During the popular York Universe Radio Show on Monday nights, members of the public from around the world can request the telescope be pointed to their favorite celestial target.

Monday Nights: York Universe Radio Show and Online Public Viewing

Galaxy NGC 7331 about 40 million light-years away, captured on the 1-metre telescope

The York Universe Radio Show is broadcast on Monday nights (9-10 pm EST October-March; 9-10 pm EDT April-September) on the online radio station astronomy.fm. Tune in every week for a new exciting broadcast about what is new in astronomy, this week in history, and amazing interviews with scientists from around the world. View our Archive of York Universe Episodes.

Running simultaneously with the York Universe Radio Show is our weekly Online Public Viewing experience on YouTube. Anyone can tune in to see live images from our four telescopes/cameras when possible, view reduced astronomical images, and chat with Observatory staff, who are more than happy to answer your questions. Requests for objects to observe will be entertained.

Wednesday Nights: Live Public Viewing and Online TeleTube Tours

Woman looking through the telescope at the York Observatory

Prior to the pandemic, the Observatory was open for in-person public viewing every Wednesday night. Visitors were able to observe selected celestial objects in the presence of friendly staff and to engage in various hands-on presentations.

However, due to COVID restrictions, in-person public viewing is only available a few days each month. See our homepage for dates.

In the absence of weekly in-person public viewings, the Observatory hosts a live TeleTube tour on its YouTube channel every Wednesday night at 7:30 pm. This online version of public viewing is followed by a Q&A session with the Observatory team. View our Archive of TeleTube Episodes.

Special Celestial Events

Child looking through a telescope

During special celestial events, like solar eclipses, planet alignments, meteor showers and more, the Observatory hosts public viewing events (in-person before the pandemic, but only online now due to COVID-19 restrictions). See our homepage for announcements.

Group Tours

Child looking through a telescope

Prior to the pandemic, the Observatory offered private tours for school groups, youth organizations, clubs, and large groups of interested individuals; these included slide show presentations, tours of our facilities, live demonstrations and hands-on activities, and of course, viewing through the telescopes when conditions permit.

These in-person tours have been paused. In the meantime, we offer our tours and live demonstrations through Zoom to groups of 10 or more. Hands on activities may require print-outs or use of a computer screen. Please contact us at observe@yorku.ca to schedule an online tour.