With one of the lowest sign illumination codes in the U.S., Sierra Vista is a great place to enjoy a starry night. Astronomers and night-sky enthusiasts alike set up in and around Sierra Vista to enjoy the vast, dark and clear skies, enjoying celestial views.
Many private observatories dot the local landscape, but you can enjoy the public Patterson Observatory, located at University of Arizona Sierra Vista and view stars, planets, and nebulas, and distant galaxies through the 20-inch Patterson Telescope. The observatory is open to the public approximately once a month, to coincide with the new moon. Click here for a schedule.
With advance notice, the observatory complex is available to the public for viewing of celestial objects, as a scientific resource for kindergarten through graduate school and local educators, and as a research instrument for astronomers. Call 800-288-3861 for information or 520-458-8278, ext. 2129 for reservations.
The Patterson Observatory is owned by the University South Foundation, Inc. and operated by volunteers from the Huachuca Astronomy Club (HAC). It is named for David Patterson who was a founding member of HAC and a major Foundation donor.
The observatory opened in September 2004 and consists of a fork-mounted f/8.1, 20-inch Ritchey Chretien reflector under a 16-foot dome. The observatory is a NASA Space Place community partner and the focal point for astronomy outreach and education in Southeast Arizona.