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About Observatory Programs

You may view our past lectures and virtual programs on YouTube and sign up for our newsletters to stay informed about future programs. You may also find answers to your questions in the Library FAQs or Observatory FAQs.

Rancho Mirage Observatory In-Person Programs

Join us for a “behind the scenes” Observatory facility tour Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 3:00 pm. No registration is necessary, simply meet in the Library Lobby where a member of the Observatory Team will greet you. This tour lasts approximately 30-45 minutes and includes indoor and outdoor aspects with minimal seating available.

Connecting Children to the Stars is a field trip opportunity providing schoolchildren – both public and private – a visit to the Rancho Mirage Observatory made possible through a grant from the Anderson Children’s Foundation.

Do you have any preferred dates? Don't worry, we will reach out to you to set an exact schedule.


The Goals of the program include:

  • Provide a tour and astronomy program for Coachella Valley students.
  • Demonstrate the operation of a state-of-the-art observatory telescope under the guidance of a professional astronomer.
  • Provide an “away from classroom” experience in an elegant, sophisticated, and unique learning environment.
  • Encourage student imagination, awe, connection, and curiosity within the Universe.

Observatory Public Exploration Nights (OPEN) are your portal to the Universe! Join us at the Rancho Mirage Observatory to glimpse beyond our world through our PlaneWave Instruments CDK 700 telescope. Ask questions and learn fun facts from astronomers and volunteer docents as you take in 100-350x magnified views of planets, nebulae, star clusters, and more (weather permitting).

No registration is necessary for this drop-in, open-house-style event. Due to the capacity limits of the Observatory, you may experience a short wait, but everyone will have a chance to get in.

Bad Weather Policy: In the event of unsuitable weather conditions that prohibit the use of telescopes, we will cancel the event. Unsuitable weather conditions include but are not limited to cloud cover, precipitation, high winds, ash, and force majeure.

Please join us in the Community Room for periodic astronomy lectures. City Astronomer Eric McLaughlin or a special guest will take you away to uncover the secrets of the Universe in these approximately 50-minute long presentations, leaving plenty of time for questions at the end.

Rancho Mirage Observatory Virtual Programs

This is a more passive program which highlights outputs previously featured on our daily tours, including time-lapse footage from the solar telescope and all-sky camera and weather station data plots. These videos include background music with minimal narration for a relaxing and pleasing viewing experience.

Watch on YouTube!

In these videos, City Astronomer Eric McLaughlin uses space simulation software to visit various places in the Universe. A more visually-driven stand-in for in-person lectures, these captivating tours of the cosmos are as informative as they are beautiful.

Watch on YouTube!

In these interactive live-stream events, we use several telescopes for viewing the Moon through its different phases, highlighting interesting geographical features and landing sites of past and current space missions. If time permits, we also try to take a peek at any visible planets. This format allows for engagement with the Observatory Team in real time!

Watch on YouTube!

Occasionally special events such as conjunctions, transits, and eclipses come along and we hold special live streams to share these events with all.

Watch on YouTube!

“We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.”

Katherine Johnson (1918 – 2020), NASA Mathematician