CAO Usage Policy

In order to better serve the RASC, Toronto Centre members, and to provide members with priority access to the E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory, the CAO booking year is divided into two categories; dark sky days and general use days.

Dark Sky Days:

Reserved for members only, who may book their stay at any time.

• From three days prior to 3rd Quarter Moon through to New Moon plus five days after New Moon.

• Subject to space availability during dark sky days, only primary members (Life, Regular, Youth and Affiliate members) may invite and book up to two non-member guests for in-house stays or up to four non-member guests for on-site camping, no earlier than two days prior to the start of the guests’ visit, and guests may stay a maximum of three nights.

• Children under the age of 14 who are not members of the RASC, Toronto Centre are not permitted.

General Use Days:

Open to members and their guests.

• General use days are all other days not designated as dark sky days.

• Only primary members may invite and book up to a maximum of four non-member guests, subject to space availability.

• Guest stays may not extend into dark sky days.

CAO Access Fees

  • Usage fee - $10 per person per night to camp or for day use
  • Usage fee - $20 per person per night for in-house accommodation
  • Individual annual pass - $85
  • Family annual pass - $140

Note: fees are subject to change without notice.

Use of the Facility
All visits to the CAO must be booked in advance. A co-ordinator confirms reservations. The Supervisor on duty allocates the sleeping quarters as visitors arrived to best maximize the facilities. As such, members cannot reserve beds or specific bedrooms.

The house and grounds (and the Tony Horvatin Observatory, without telescope) are available to all RASC, Toronto Centre or affiliate members. During non-supervised stays, a key set can be borrowed from key holders located around the GTA. Access to the Geoff Brown Observatory (with computer driven telescope and accessories) is only available when a supervisor is on duty.

Pets are not allowed inside the house or GBO. Visitors are asked to scoop up after the pets.

Insurance and Safety
Everyone visiting and staying at the CAO must be a RASC member or a guest of the member and visitors must be accompanied by a member for insurance purposes. The RASC national organisation and the Toronto Centre have insurance in place to protect all authorised parties visiting the CAO. The CAO is a private facility and its primary use is for members.

A notable exception to this when we conduct public outreach events where we invite members of the general public to attend lectures and enjoy some astronomical observing. These visitors must vacate the premises after the educational or public event and may not stay on the grounds for an extended time or overnight.

All members using the observatory are provided a copy of the CAO Site Facilities Manual. They are expected to read and follow the manual.

Active Participation
The RASC, Toronto Centre is a volunteer-run organisation (like most amateur astronomy clubs). And so to the CAO is supported by volunteers. The supervisors who open and close the facility and operate the telescopic equipment are volunteers. On weekends, the supervisor and members maintain and keep up the premises. It is hoped that all who use the facility, where possible, assist in its upkeep and maintenance. This includes lawn care, cleaning the house, minor repairs, garbage removal, and miscellaneous chores.

We also conduct 2 to 3 work parties through the year typically. These events are for tackling large projects, such as painting, repairs, minor construction, storm window maintenance, etc. Members are asked to assist or contribute at these events. Often the regular users and supervisors are present in large numbers.

Visiting the CAO
We are happy to support individual and group visits with a tour of the facility. These visits must be arranged in advance. We are always grateful to receive donations in these instances.

The CAO Committee