Did you know that Osoyoos is one of the best places in Canada for observing our galaxy? This was determined by testing done to identify the possible site for the Queen Elizabeth Telescope, which would have been placed on Mt. Kobau, and house Canada’s National Observatory. It was an exceptional location because of the number of clear nights and moderate climate and because of its location on the crossroads of Highway 97 and Highway 3. Read more about the history here.
Besides Mt. Kobau, Anarchist Mountain offers dark skies with minimum light trespass from Osoyoos. The Town of Osoyoos has restrictions in place on upward-pointing lights and is encouraging the use of full cut-off lighting (i.e., lights that are shielded and point downwards rather than into the skies above). Oroville has in place very strong ordinances to support efforts to control light pollution.
A drive to the summit of Mt. Kobau would put visitors in the same location from which the Mt. Kobau Star Party is hosted. There is wide panoramic view over the valley with dark skies overhead. During the Perseid meteor showers in mid-August, it should be possible to enjoy naked-eye observations of meteors. Viewing of other celestial objects can be enjoyed with binocular or telescopic equipment.
You could also expect to get some nice viewing from some of the (former Regal Ridge) Osoyoos Mountain Estates properties as well.
The months that offer the best chance for reliable weather are from April through October. The desert climate and absence of dew both contribute to good observing.
Experience the night sky in Osoyoos
The Observatory B&B, 500 meters above Lake Osoyoos, has a one-half meter telescope that provides outstanding views of deep-sky objects. The location is dark enough to allow viewing of the Milky Way. Stays always includes an evening observing session to guests, and occasionally the program is offered to a limited number of visitors for a nominal fee. All such visits must be arranged in advance by calling the B&B at (250) 495-6745 during the May through October season. Thank you to Alice and Jack Newton of the Observatory B&B for this information.
Every year many astronomers venture to the top of Mt Kobau for the Mt Kobau Star Party. Mt. Kobau Star Party is for those whose hearts swell at the sight of faint starlight; it is not for the faint of heart. The bumpy road to the summit can de-collimate more than your telescope. At night, while good seeing tests your scope’s resolution, cold temperatures will test your personal resolve.