Rothney Astrophysical Observatory




Year round. Hours Vary.


About Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Located on a hilltop in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO) is a facility dedicated to expanding our knowledge of the Universe and educating the public about the wonders of Astronomy.The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory houses a collection of telescopes, related technology, photographs and research archives.

The 1.8 meter diameter of the A.R. Cross Telescope’s primary mirror makes it one of the three largest telescopes in Canada.The 0.5 meter diameter Baker-Nunn Telescope is only one of a handful of telescopes in the world dedicated to surveying the sky on a nightly basis and searching for asteroids that might one day hit the Earth. It is also the ONLY telescope in the world capable of performing this important survey work near the North Celestial Pole.

What to do at Rothney Astrophysical Observatory?

Things to do at RAO

Explore the 2200 square foot Interpretive Centre with educational displays about astronomy.

Participate in Open house and learn about the universe through talks, fun activities, and a chance to look through the telescopes.


See the Milky way throughout the three nights in August.

How to get to Rothney Astrophysical Observatory?


Photo Credit: Alan Dyer. Stargazers enjoy the sight of the Milky Way across the sky. Taken at the Milky Way Night, August 8, 2010, at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory.

Location & Directions to RAO

It takes about forty-five minutes to drive from downtown Calgary to the observatory, which is is located just outside of Calgary, off Highway 22X in the Priddis area. There is no public transportation. Note the signs on the road,lest you miss it.

Address: 200, 198070 Hwy 22, Calgary

GPS Coordinates:50.868039 , -114.291142

How long will it take to see Rothney Astrophysical Observatory?

Time Required to Visit RAO – 1 hour to 3 hours.

How much to visit RAO?

RAO Admission

Admission is free, but for night visits there is a suggested donation $5 per per person.

Open house – Admission $30.00 per car

Milky Way Nights – By Donation

When to visit Rothney Astrophysical Observatory?

RAO Hours

Interpretive Centre Hours

Day time Drop in Time : Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: Noon – 4pm

Call first if you would like a tour of the observatory.

Please check website before you visit in case of closure due to inclement weather.

Open House

Once a month | Gates open at 8:00pm and the event runs until 11:00pm.

Milky Way Nights

In July and August

What about Amenities, Access & Parking RAO?

Gift shop, Guided tours, Libraries, Restrooms.

The Interpretive Centre is wheelchair accessible, but please call ahead if you also wish to visit the observatory.

Parking available onsite

More To Do




Mythology and the Cosmos at the RAO
Mythology and the Cosmos at the RAO

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, 200 198070 Hwy 22, Priddis

Date: February 1, 2020 To February 1, 2020

Timing: 12:00 AM To 11:59 PM

Posted in History & Culture and Science Museum & Observatory

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