E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory (CAO)

*NOTE: The E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory (CAO) is operating with restricted access for Members and no access for the Public for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.  For further information, see the CAO Bookings tabs in the Members area of this website. 

The CAO is one of the benefits of membership with the RASC, Toronto Centre. It is for all of 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, additional sleeping facilities, 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 including 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. Members can have the supervisor set up the CCD or MallinCam camera or attach their own camera to any scope.  

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 for members to use or bring up a scope from the loaner program! There is also the Tony Horvatin Observatory (THO), a small, enclosed observatory available for member use. 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 also home of the Fred Troyer library where you will find 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.

Directions and a map are available here (members only). They are also available in the Site Facilities Manual that is provided upon first booking. We cautions against travelling to the CAO relying solely on directions supplied by GPS units.

Members are asked to book their visit to the CAO noting their arrival and departure dates and 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 and modest fees. The CAO bookings 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. Fees for using the facility are low - check out the purchase an annual passport page for greater savings.

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