The University of Montana is opening up the Blue Mountain Observatory again this summer for public observing nights.

In a news release, UM's Department of Physics and Astronomy noted that the telescope will be pointed toward planets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies during the eight free viewing nights.

Astronomers will talk about the objects viewed, point out constellations and show folks objects that can be viewed with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars.

The 16-inch telescope sits on Blue Mountain west of Missoula, at about 6,300 feet. Families and children are invited, but are reminded to bring warm clothes. Bring a flashlight for the short walk from your car to the observatory. Observing begins about an hour after sunset.

To get there, turn off US 93 at Blue Mountain Road, drive through the Blue Mountain Recreation area and up the mountain about 10 miles to the Blue Mountain fire lookout. Park there and walk over to the observatory.

If clouds or thunderstorms get in the way, the viewing nights will be canceled. Those planning to attend should call (406) 243-5179 for weather or cancellation updates.

The public observing nights are:

  • Friday, June 7
  • Friday, June 14
  • Saturday, June 29
  • Friday, July 12
  • Friday, August 2
  • Friday, August 9
  • Friday August 30
  • Friday, September 6