Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the night sky and all the beauty and vastness it provides. So anytime I get a chance to see it through a telescope or just be somewhere without light pollution, I jump at the chance. On a recent trip to Twentynine Palms, I heard about Sky’s the Limit Observatory and the free viewings they hold on most Saturday nights, so I went out to see it for myself. Here is all the information.
- Most Saturday nights unless there is a full moon
- Check out event information on their website
- This information is from my visit in 2016
Sky’s the Limit Observatory is located on Utah Trail Road, the same road you would use to visit Joshua Tree National Park from Twentynine Palms. Chances are you have seen it if you have entered the park this way as it is difficult to miss the small white observatory on the left-hand side. There is a large dirt parking lot for cars.
When you get out of the car, you will immediately see the Orrery, which is a giant replica of our solar system that they have created to give you a perspective on how far away everything is. The scale they use is something crazy like 20 billion to one, and the planets are still incredibly far away, with the closest star being somewhere near Mexico City in this replica. It really does help you to grasp just how big everything is, and it was one of the highlights of the event for me.
They also have a nature trail and a zen meditation garden here that you can explore during the daytime, which I did not check out on this visit. After learning about the observatory and its history, we were able to start looking through a telescope. Unfortunately, someone had stolen some stuff from the observatory, so we were not able to view the sky from in there, but they had set up a telescope outside of the observatory we could look through.
The observatory was open to see all the telescopes they had, which was cool. I found it interesting that they used red light since that is the best way not to let your eyes be affected by the light when looking at the night sky.
While we were there, we got a chance to see three planets: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They still were tiny in the telescope, but you could barely make out the rings of Saturn and just a hint of the lines on Jupiter, which was cool. I half expected it to be closer and to show more, but I now understand how intense the telescope needs to be to do this.
Saturn was the highlight of the time, as it was awesome to see the small outlines of the rings and it is looked a lot different than the other planets we were looking at.
I was impressed with the people working there as they are just volunteers, but they made the experience great. They were incredibly welcoming and excited to talk about stars with us.
This is an excellent spot to visit while in Twentynine Palms. If you or your children are fascinated by the stars, then be sure to go for one of their free viewings and check it out. Let me know what you think in the comments.