Skip to main content

The CAO is one of the benefits of membership with the RASC, Toronto Centre. It is for all our members to use and enjoy. Many people, visual astronomers and astrophotographers, arrive on Friday after work and spend the weekend. They enjoy skies with very little light pollution and time out of the city with friends they've met in the Toronto Centre. Located between the Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley, the site offers very dark skies with sight lines in all directions combined with comfortable amenities. 

The house has 3 bedrooms on the main floor, additional sleeping facilities downstairs, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and internet access. Red lighting is used throughout the facility at night to help keep everyone’s eyes dark-adapted. The building's accessible features include a ramp and wheelchair-friendly picnic tables. Some members prefer to camp on-site. In the warmer months, you can spot tents and camper trailers. There is lots of parking space.

The Geoff Brown Observatory (GBO) features a roll-off roof. This is our main observatory and has a research-grade telescope and mount which members may use when a supervisor is on duty. There's lots of extra room in the observatory for members to set up their own telescopes. Pop into the "warm room" to chat, dodge the mosquitoes, or warm your toes.

The Sue-Lora Observatory (SLO) also features a roll-off roof and is dedicated to astrophotography intended to be used by a single person. It is fully equipped with both Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain and refractor telescopes specially selected and designed for imaging. Members who are trained and pre-qualified may book the SLO during their stay at the CAO to pursue their personal Astro-imaging projects.

There is a large Observing Pad with AC power for members bringing their own telescopes or binoculars. Many astronomers will gather here for a fun, friendly, and social evening. Everyone is happy to share views from their telescopes. Members help each other with questions and technical gremlins. Beginner astronomers get tips and advice from our knowledgeable members and the site supervisor.

Other telescopes are available on-site for members to use or bring up a scope from the loaner program! There is also the Tony Horvatin Observatory (THO), a small observatory available for member use with their own equipment. It makes it easy to avoid setting up and tearing down over consecutive nights, avoid the wind and enjoy reduced dew.


The Carr Astronomical Observatory is home to the Fred Troyer Library where you will find an excellent collection of historical and current reading material if clouded out. 

During the day there are lots of family-oriented things to do in the area such as a visit to the towns of Thornbury or Clarksburg or one of the farmer’s markets. Spend the day at the nearby Scenic Caves or Blue Mountains Resort. Head to the beach or hike the Bruce Trail. Bike trails abound. Enjoy fine dining, take in the annual Elvis Festival or any of the surrounding craft and antique shows.

If the skies don’t cooperate on a given evening, we might spark up the bonfire or play a movie.

We caution against travelling to the CAO relying solely on directions supplied by GPS units or mapping software such as Google Maps as these will often lead travelers over unpassable and dangerous roads. Only follow the local directions in our provided materials. Directions and a map are available in the Site Facilities Manual that is provided upon first booking and are also available here (members only). 


Members are asked to book their visit to the CAO noting their arrival and departure dates and the number and names of people in their party. The reservation form is available in our members-only area (you can use your National RASC website login information). See the bookings page for more information. The CAO booking coordinator will contact you with a formal confirmation of your reservation.


Many members visiting for the first time are often heard to say, “I had no idea about this!”  We hope to see you soon at the observatory.


To attend the CAO, members must either purchase a pass or pay-as-you-go.

1.   All CAO passes expire at the end of each current fiscal year (September 30th) and need to be renewed/repurchased for the following fiscal year.

2.   The passes and daily user fees for attending the CAO are:

a.       $160/family pass valid to the end of the fiscal year

b.       $95/individual pass valid to the end of the fiscal year

c.       $30/person/day pay-as-you-go for in-house overnight accommodation

d.       $15/person/day pay-as-you-go for camping overnight

e.       $15/person/day pay-as-you-go day use

3.  A member may apply a recent per day fee towards the subsequent purchase of an annual pass.

4.  There is a grace period whereby anyone purchasing a family or individual pass within two months prior to the end of the fiscal year will have their passes automatically extended to the end of the next fiscal year.

5.   First-time users of the CAO must be accompanied by either a CAO Supervisor, another member who is pre-qualified in the opening/closing procedures of the facility or be themselves pre-qualified by successfully attending an on-site orientation program offered by the Toronto Centre from time to time.

We are a member of the Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce.