Private Group Observing
Can't find a public show that works for you? Already have a group? Why not arrange a private viewing at Blue Mountain Observatory? This summer, we are offering private group bookings on a limited basis. Family reunions, company gatherings, or a large group of friends, whatever your group our students and UM staff astronomers will guide you on an exploration of our night sky. Viewing events begin at 10 pm and often run past midnight; we charge $600 per evening.
Blue Mountain nights are run as a labor of love by many volunteers, the funds collected through all of our viewing activities go to support our student staff, pay for fuel, and to provide necessary equipment maintenance. If your observation date must be canceled due to clouds or smoke, we automatically refund your money. To request a private evening at the Blue Mountain Observatory, please complete the private observation booking request.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable night for everyone, please be aware of the following:
- For most people, the drive to the top of Blue Mountain takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour from downtown Missoula. The dirt road tends to develop a washboard surface, but is passable to all cars all the way to the fire lookout. There are a few spots which are a bit narrow for passing and have steep drop-offs, so please drive carefully and respect the fact that you will be sharing this back country road with many other Blue Mountain guests. See our Directions Page for accurate driving directions before you head out.
- Early in the night, there will be a student intern stationed in the parking area near the fire lookout. Please park so that you DO NOT block the road. If you are unsure where to park, how to get to the observatory, or have any other questions, the intern will be happy to help you out. Parking on the summit ridge is limited and we encourage guests to carpool whenever possible.
- To ensure these events remain safe, NO ALCOHOL is allowed.
- Our observatory is located at an elevation of 6,300 feet. Even when summer days are hot in Missoula, it can get quite cold on the mountain. It always pays to bring more clothes (coat, hat, gloves, scarf) than you think you will need! You can always leave them in your car if it turns out you don’t need them.
- The observatory is about 400 yards down a rough dirt road from where you will park. You should have comfortable walking shoes and a good flashlight or headlamp for your walk to and from the observatory.
- If we have to cancel: viewing nights will be canceled if the sky is cloudy, thunderstorms threaten, or if there is significant smoke or nearby fires. You will receive an update on observing conditions during the early evening hours on the day of your private booking.
- Missoula Clear Sky Chart (high time resolution forecast to see if it is likely we will be observing)
- Astronomy Picture of the Day (outstanding source for exploration of all things astronomical- fully linked and searchable)
- The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area UM’s hands-on science center