Foothill Observatory Building
FOOTHILL OBSERVATORY

Foothill Observatory

Located on the campus of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, Foothill College is operated by the Peninsula Astronomical Society, and offers weekly public astronomy programs on Fridays and Saturdays. The observatory is staffed by knowledgeable PAS members who volunteer to conduct these popular weekly events.

Public events are free of charge, and are open to visitors of all ages. However, please note that the observatory is closed when it is cloudy.




Foothill Friday Evening Program

Every 1st and 3rd clear Friday evening from 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Visitors can view the wonders of the universe through the observatory’s computer-controlled 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Views of objects in our solar system may include craters and mountains on the moon, the moons and cloud-bands of Jupiter, or the rings of Saturn!

The choice of targets for any evening’s viewing depends on the season and what objects are currently in the sky. On clear, dark, moonless nights, the telescopes give visitors views into the deeper reaches of space. Star clusters, nebulae, and distant galaxies provide dramatic demonstrations of the vastness of the cosmos.

Since we are still dealing with COVID in the Bay Area, we are adopting the following guidelines to enable safe operation of the Observatory for both our public visitors and our PAS operators.  We ask that visitors please agree to complying with these guidelines before visiting the Observatory, and to direct any questions to info@pastro.org.

COVID-19 ATTENDANCE GUIDELINES

  1. Full vaccination against COVID-19 is required to visit the Foothill College campus, and hence to visit Foothill Observatory. This is a College requirement detailed on the Foothill College COVID-19 Behavioral Expectations page.
  2. Mask usage is required anytime visiting the Foothill College campus, including the Observatory, per the same college policy linked above in item 1.
  3. There will be a reduced maximum number of visitors allowed inside the Observatory at any given time, to avoid overcrowding within the limited space. When you arrive at the Observatory, please wait outside until a PAS operator lets you and your group inside.  Once your group is done viewing through the telescope, you will exit the Observatory so that a new group may enter.  You are welcome to rejoin the outside queue if you’d like to view an additional object through the telescope.



Foothill Saturday Morning Program [ON HOLD]

Every clear Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. until noon

NOTE: This program continues to be suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, but will hopefully be back soon!

Visitors to these daytime programs can view details of the sun through our special safe solar filters. We are able to provide spectacular views through both white-light and hydrogen-alpha (0.6 Angstrom) filters.

Visitors can inspect two different layers of the sun –– the photosphere and the chromosphere. Depending on solar activity, guests will see sunspots (giant cooler areas on the sun’s surface), solar prominences (huge flame-like eruptions), and solar flares (titanic explosions).




Observatory Location and Parking Information

Is the observatory open? Click here to view the Observatory Webcam to find out!

Getting to Campus
The observatory is on the campus of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, right off the Highway 280 El Monte Road exit.

Location on Campus
The observatory is next to Parking Lot 4 and the Krause Center for Innovation (Building 4000). Check the campus map for details.

Parking
Visitor parking permits are required and available from machines located in the parking lots. Parking is $3.00 per vehicle. 

NOTE: Please do not park in spaces marked “Staff” or you will be ticketed!




View of the Sky Above Foothill Observatory

View a map of the sky above Foothill Observatory!

Clear Sky Chart