Planetarium and Telescopes


Credit: Dunlap Institute

Located in the basement of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Building at 50 St. George Street, the 25-seat planetarium dome is a GeoDome Theatre, using the Uniview software, which was designed to display the Digital Universe catalog from NASA and the Hayden planetarium. The software is not limited to the traditional Earth view of the stars and instead allows our attendees to experience the universe from many vantage points. More information about the planetarium can be found on’s planetarium page.

Planetarium entryway. The planetarium dome is a GeoDome Theatre, and the projector uses the Uniview software, which was designed to display the Digital Universe catalog from NASA and the Hayden planetarium.
Etsuko Mieda leads a planetarium show during a 2010 AstroTour.
Neptune as projected by the planetarium. Credit: Lily Luan.

During our AstroTours, the planetarium shows take place in parallel with the telescope tours. We offer a 15-minute show three times per evening. Due to the limited size of the dome and time constraints, not all tour attendees will be able to see a planetarium show during the tour. For this reason, entrance to the first two planetarium shows requires registration. To obtain your free ticket, please use the “Sign up for astrotour planetarium show” button below. Instructions on where to meet for the show is included on the ticket page. Tickets for the third show are available after the talk on a first-come first-serve basis.

We currently allow planetarium registration only for groups up to five people. If you have a larger group, please see our FAQ for more information.

If you are interested in booking planetarium shows outside of the AstroTours, please go to’s planetarium page.



Credit: Dunlap Institute

Our telescopes are located on the 15th and 16th floors of the McLennan Physical Labs building at 60 St. George Street.

On the 16th floor there are two observing domes which house an 8-inch refracting telescope and a 16-inch reflecting telescope.

The 8-inch refractor, manufactured by GOTO in 1965, is operated manually and can therefore only be used to observe objects that are visible to the naked eye. It is best-suited to observing bright planets, the moon and binary star systems. It has a magnification of 300x, and is equipped with a tracking motor, which allows it to remain focused on an object as the earth rotates, and a solar filter, which permits us to safely observe the Sun during the day.

The computer operated 16-inch reflector is the most powerful of our telescopes. Manufactured by Boller & Chivens in 1965, it has a magnification of 100x for the eyepiece we normally fit to it. We often use this telescope to look at diffuse, extended objects, such as the Andromeda Galaxy or Orion Nebula. For exceptionally faint objects we are able to mount a DSLR at the end of the telescope and take seconds to minutes-long exposures, then project them onto a computer monitor.

The observatory domes at sunset.
The 8-inch refractor telescope. Manufactured by GOTO in 1965, it has a 300x magnification and features a tracking motor that compensates for the rotation of the Earth.
The computer operated 16-inch reflector. Manufactured by Boller & Chivens in 1965, it has a magnification of 100x, and can be fitted with a camera for long exposures.
Dr. Ilana MacDonald describes observations of galaxy M82 in front of the 16-inch telescope during our 2014 Supernova Extravaganza.
The computer-controlled 10-inch Meade LX200 reflecting telescope deployed in the McLennan Building 15th floor landing during a 2009 AstroTour. It features 50x magnification.
Dr. Renbin Yan operates the 4-inch Questar with solar filter attached during the 2009 Science Rendezvous. The telescope has 40x – 80x magnification.

Our pillar-mounted telescope is a 10-inch Meade LX200 telescope, a Schmidt-Cassegrain with a computer-controlled tracking motor, allowing it to view any object in its library once calibrated. It is used to view a variety of targets, from planets to nebulae. It has a 50x magnification.

Our smallest balcony telescope is a Questar, which is a 4-inch reflecting telescope with 40x – 80x magnification and no electronic components. It has a wide field of view, and so is best-suited to looking at planets and the moon, as well as star clusters like the Pleiades which are visible to the naked eye. It is also equipped with a solar filter, allowing it to view the Sun during the day.

On occasion when the Sun is out during an AstroTour, we will deploy our Meade Cornado H-alpha telescope. This telescope filters out all light except a specific colour of dark red (656 nanometres) that is prominently emitted by ionized gas in the Sun’s atmosphere. Solar storms and sunspots are easily observed through this telescope.

If skies are cloudy or rainy, we offer a virtual sky tour in the observatory domes and point the balcony telescopes at downtown buildings such as the CN tower.