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Visiting the Fremont Peak Observatory

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The Fremont Peak Observatory is located within the Fremont Peak State Park. The observatory is the home of the 30-inch Challenger telescope. The Fremont Peak Observatory Association (FPOA) operates the observatory in co-operation with the California State Park service.

This information is provided for people who are planning to visit the Fremont Peak Observatory during one of Landon Curt Noll's observatory nights. However, much of this information is of general nature.

The Fremont Peak Observatory is open at many other times during the year. For example, the FPOA assists the park service by hosting public observing sessions on Saturdays from Spring thru Fall. At other times the observatory is available to groups (clubs, schools, companies, scout groups, etc.) by request.

For information in public observing sessions or to request the observatory for a group call the Fremont Peak Observatory Association (FPOA) at +1 831-623-2465 or send EMail to info at fpoa dot net.


If you have never visited the Fremont Peak Observatory, you should review the:
Directions to Fremont Peak Observatory
page before you go.


NOTE: Ignore this section if you are not attending during one of Landon Curt Noll's observatory nights.

Starting time

NOTE: If you are attending Landon Curt Noll's observatory nights, the session will begin at sunset.

Consult your local newspaper for sunset times, or use the Sunset calendar. A custom calendar for San Jose, California is accurate enough for trip planning purposes.

For public park nights, we recommend that you show up at sunset as well. Usually there will be a talk or presentation given by an FPO member just prior to it getting dark. See the Fremont Peak Observatory Association web site for a schedule of public programs and special events. See the sunset link above for information on how to find the time of Sunset.

Drive and arrive during the daylight

If you have never been to the Fremont Peak State Park, we recommend drive there in the daytime. It is a log easier to find the Park and Observatory during daylight.

NOTE: From San Jose, it takes about 90 minutes (depending on your speed and driving habits) to drive to Fremont Peak State Park. To be safe, plan on leaving San Jose 2 hours before Sunset.

Come prepared

Be prepared for Cold weather. It can get cold on the top of the mountain, even during the summer! Bring layered cold weather gear! A hat or ski cap and gloves are also recommended. There is a warm room next to the observatory if you get too cold. But don't let the talk of warmth cut your visit short.

Your State Parks depend. in part, on visitor fees. There is a fee for camping as well as just visiting for the evening. Pay your visitor fee (per car) at the parking lot next to the campground.

Bring a red flashlight. If you do not have a red flashlight, cover a white flashlight with several layers of heavy red paper.

The Fremont Peak State Park is a a semi-developed state park. There are flush toilets near the observatory. The nearest pay phone is back at the parking lot back at the camp ground. There is a campground available for those who want to stay overnight.

There is no food facilities at the park. You should bring your own food and drink.

BTW: Landon tends to bring little food but instead rely on food offerings (Hot Chocolate, juices, munches and veggie items) from others. *hint* :-)
Please do not bring food or drink into the observatory room itself.

Respect the Dark Zone

There is a dark zone on the road that goes up from the main park road behind the ranger's house and to the observatory. The dark zone starts at the gate. See the dark zone link for detains.

At night, people are often are taking astro photos and digital images. It will get very dark after sunset. There will likely be a number of other Astronomers up there doing observations and taking photographs and digital images. The smallest amount of light from a flashlight can spoil a hour of work. It can take as much as a hour for someone's eyes to recover from being flashed with a bright light. Please avoid using white flashlights in the dark zone.

We recommend that you walk to the observatory during the daylight. If it is dark, you might consider staying at the parking lot and allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness before walking up the road. Better still, use a red flashlight.

All are welcome

All persons of all ages are welcome. Feel free to stay as short or as long as you like.

If you are visiting during one of Landon Curt Noll's observatory nights, simply let Landon know how approximately many people will attend.

About the weather

Don't be fooled if it is overcast where you live on the day of the observatory. Often overcast conditions exist in the Bay Area mean great/clear sky at Fremont Peak.

NOTE: If you are attending Landon Curt Noll's observatory nights, check with Landon 3 hours prior to sunset to see if the event is canceled or if conditions are doubtful. See the sunset link above for information on how to find the time of Sunset.

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