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Taylor Observatory/Norton Planetarium

Taylor Observatory/Norton Planetarium is one of Lake County's little known treasures. Located in Kelseyville, California it is owned and operated by the Lake County Office of Education as a valuable tool for teaching science, robotics and astronomy while also encouraging the development of teaching & management skills of high school students. While primarily for use by the schools the public is invited to attend planetarium shows offered on the FOURTH Saturday of each month 8 - 11pm for a modest fee of $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12. You can also reserve the facilities and teaching available for retreats complete with camping facilities. If you would like to gather with other astronomy buffs for activities which support the observatory you can signing up for the mailing list and possibly join 'FOTO' Friends of Taylor Observatory, the nonprofit group which oversees the management of the Observatory. Send an email to: Bill Haddon, PhD President/CEO haddon.bill@gmail.com

An Observatory in Lake County?

Most people ask with surprise, how did an observatory get built in Lake County? The founder Robert Taylor, educator and amateur astronomer, moved from the bright lights of the big city to Lake County in the mid 1970's. When he experienced the "coal black skies of Lake County filled with stars" it was love at first sight. His mind filled with inspiration he set out to get the funding for building an observatory and achieved that goal when the doors opened in 1980. Five years later the planetarium was added rounding out the offerings for scientific discovery. In 2004 the facility was renovated through the efforts of the Kelseyville Rotary Club and Amateur Astronomers from Lake County and the Ukiah Astronomical Society.

Renting the facilities for private events & school field trips is by reservation. It is really a unique place to have a retreat whether it's for your organization or as a fun time for families to get together and observe the stars. Also available is a science workshop retreat with telescopes with over 10,000 sq ft of outdoor space for camping out under the starry skies (don't forget the flashlight and warm clothing as it gets chilly here in Lake County at night). The classroom seats 36, has a 32 seat planetarium with a 6.2 meter (20ft) domed ceiling with an Epsilon Model Digitarium Star Projector System. , email the Observatory Coordinator nmcnicholas@lakecoe.org or call 707-262-4121

To keep up with events related to the Planetarium you can join the Friends of Taylor Observatory group on Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftaylorobservatory/

The homepage for Friends of Taylor Observatory (FOTO) has lots of information on astronomy. If you are interested for more information check out their site: FOTO

Their flyer online at Taylor Observatory is from a couple of years ago as the Public Events date changed to the Fourth Saturday.

From the flyer:

"Taylor Observatory hosts Public Events on the fourth Saturday of the month, no reservation required. The events start at 8 pm and continue until 11 pm. Ample on-site parking is available. Extra parking is available along the dirt road entering the facility. To enhance your viewing experience, area lighting is red and kept to a minimum. Please take care walking in the parking area. You can bring your own flashlight or use one of our loaners. Due to Lake County clear skies, it can get quite cold at night. Warm clothing is recommended, especially during the winter season.

Events at the observatory, whether public or private, typically include some or all of the following activities:

  • Classroom Presentation - The classroom presentation is a short lecture dealing with a topic in astronomy, such as the solar system. PowerPoint presentations often accompany the lecture.
  • Planetarium Show - This is typically a prerecorded show that includes a tour of tonight's constellations, deep sky objects, and a slide show of an area of astronomical interest. Interactive shows are available for education outreach and special events.
  • Telescope viewing - The observatory's telescopes are used to observe the Moon, planets, nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters. If it's a daytime event, we place our solar telescope into service.
  • Astronomy and Space Science Activities - Educational and fun activities are available. Speak with the Observatory Coordinator or check our Education Outreach

Is there a special event coming up? Hold your private event at Taylor Observatory. For reservation, email the Observatory Coordinator or call 707-262-4121

Astronomy Resources on the Web

Astronomy Images

Telescope Resources

  • Astronomics - an online reseller of telescopes and accessories
  • Celestron - an online supplier of telescopes with a knowledge-base for support on all telescopes
  • Orion Telescopes - an online reseller of telescopes and accessories

Beth Katherine Kaiman, LCPTV's Interim Station Manager copyright 2016

To learn more about Lake County and it's unique treasures please consider attending future lectures of the Know Lake County series every 3rd Saturday at 2:00 pm at the Lakeport Library February through November.

Each lecture is on a topic of an unique story of Lake County.


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