Gustav Bakos Observatory

Observatory guide Robbie Henderson views the stars through the telescope.

The Gustav Bakos Observatory, named in honour of the first astronomer at the University of Waterloo, houses a twelve-inch telescope, which is located on the roof of the Physics building. The observatory has been in operation since 1967. The telescope has been used for research on visual binary stars and for undergraduate student assignments.

Public tours

Free tours for the public have been conducted at the Gustav Bakos Observatory for over ten years. These tours include monthly public tours; scheduled tours for groups such as girl guides, boy scouts, and elementary and high school classes; and tours for viewing special events such as eclipses and comets.

The Observatory is open for public tours usually on the first Wednesday of each month, offering a chance to look through the university's telescope. This will be preceded by a short talk on astronomy (around 30 minutes) plus an opportunity to ask questions, followed by a tour of the dome. In the event of bad weather, the observing will not be possible, but the talk and tour of facilities will go ahead. [No optical telescope on Earth can see through cloud - if it's too cloudy to see stars with the unaided eye (or the Sun earlier in the day), then we won't be able to see stars through the telescope.]

Everybody is welcome. Due to anticipated high-demand, pre-registration will likely be required, but all tours are free of charge (except for parking in most campus lots).

During special events of astronomical interest, additional tours may be scheduled and will be announced here.

If you would like to be notified when our public tour dates are announced, please join our mailing list by sending a blank e-mail to:

If you have any questions or would like to arrange a private tour for your group, you may send an email to the observatory coordinator at:

Will it be clear tonight? Astronomical forecast