Blue Mountain Observatory lines up summer celestial sessions

The public can explore planets, nebulas, star clusters and distant galaxies during six upcoming free observing nights at the University of Montana’s Blue Mountain Observatory this summer.

Public observing nights are scheduled for the following Fridays: June 23, July 14 and 21, Aug. 25, and Sept. 15 and 22. The events are family-friendly and children are welcome. Attendees are asked to reserve a free ticket for each person in their group via Eventbrite.

This year, the observatory also will offer two limited-attendance nights on Saturday, July 22, and Saturday, Aug. 26. Tickets cost $20 per person and can be purchased through Eventbrite. Attendance will be limited to 25 people.

The observatory, located atop Blue Mountain at an elevation of 6,300 feet, is operated by UM. Astronomers from UM and the Western Montana Astronomical Association will be on hand at all events to talk about what’s being viewed through the telescopes, point out constellations, show attendees how to find interesting celestial objects with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars, and discuss recent astronomical discoveries.

Observing begins about an hour after sunset, and organizers recommend bringing warm clothes for cool evenings and a flashlight for the short walk to the observatory from the parking area.

A link to Eventbrite, a map, directions to the observatory and complete observing information are available by following this link. Viewing nights will be canceled if the sky is cloudy or fire or thunderstorms threaten visibility.

For more information email Diane Friend, UM astronomy lecturer, at or call 406-243-4229.