Is it possible to come and just do a tour/ see the observatory or do you need to have an over night booking?
Unfortunately no. The way the astronomy tour is structured, only guests of the Observatory cottage can book for the Astro tour. The astronomer is not local and has to travel from Sydney to conduct the tour. We have to plan the whole tour logistically so that you can enjoy the experience.
Since I am only receiving one night of star gazing during my stay, and the minimum stay is 2 nights, what if i stay 3 or more nights? Do i still receive the one night star gazing?
Yes, you will only receive one night of star gazing irrespective the number of nights you stay with us. If you wish to have another night of stargazing since the weather has been exceptionally good, you could pay additional $350 to the astronomer for that option.
I understand that we cannot see stars when its cloudy even through a telescope. So what do we get for our $350 Astro tour fees?
The way we structure the star gazing tour is as follows:
The astronomer will knock on the cottage door to welcome you, just after sunset. Please do not disturb him before this time - he may be sleeping. He will then open up the dome, accessed via stairs in the master bedroom, to enable the telescope’s optics to “temperature settle” - you must be present at the cottage at this time or your tour will be cancelled and there will be no refund. The actual tour starts at the end of astronomical twilight - meaning the time it becomes fully dark in Leura or 30 minutes earlier to view brighter objects like the moon. To find the exact time, you can use a variety of free smart phone apps or consult:
The dome will not be opened if there is any chance of possible rain that could destroy the telescope, as it takes time for the motorised shutter to close. The astronomer will then provide a full orientation prior to full darkness, after he prepares the dome.
Generally, if the first night is cloudy, then the tour will be postponed to the second night. If the second night is also cloudy, it will be postponed to the third night and so on until the last night of your stay, where if similar poor conditions occur, you will be given a tour of the research facility and a very educational and enjoyable multimedia presentation. Naturally, we can’t control the weather.
When you have received your one night of visual star gazing, that will be the end of the astronomer’s commitment to you.
He may leave the observatory or remain on site (for example, if there is another group booked after yours).
You need to plan your night time activity around the star gazing session since you should give priority for clear nights. However if that activity was arranged before your arrival, you must inform us at firstname.lastname@example.org . If it’s clear on your first night and you are not at the cottage to prepare for your viewing by sunset, your tour will be cancelled and there will be no refund, as expenses have already been incurred for him to drive up from Sydney especially for your group.
What happen when the Astro tour were to commence that evening?
The astronomer will prepare the telescope and observatory before the commencement of the tour. He will need to gain access to the dome above the primary bed room.
Tours will start right after the end of Astronomical twilight.
Astronomical twilight varies according to different day of the year. During summer, the Astronomical twilight may end at nearly 10 pm local time and during winter, the Astronomical twilight may end nearly 6:30 pm local time. Please inform the astronomer if this time is not suitable. The tour may start half hour earlier to view brighter objects.
You may be able to determine the local astronomical twilight at
so that you can plan ahead for your day's or night's activity.
What happens if I’ve made dinner plans to go out for that evening?
The astronomer can come up from Sydney for your second night instead, as long as you notify us well in advance – keeping in mind that you lessen your chances of the amount of clear nights available to you. The start time of the tour is strictly at the end of Astronomical twilight. We can not delay the start time of the tour, neither does the astronomer have keys to access the cottage at sunset to prepare the telescope and dome.
If this occurs and we do not know well in advance, your tour will be cancelled and there will be no refund.
There are 5 of us staying at the cottage and we have the Star Gazing Tour tour booked. A friend or 2 who are staying else and they are also interested in experiencing the Star Gazing Tour with us. Is this ok?
Yes. The cost is $50/person, payable via cash directly to the astronomer.
We can also do a second tour for $350 people, if more than 7 people in total.
If more than our maximum capacity, we can do second tour for $350, payable via cash directly to the astronomer or via PayPal at: