Last week's visit by the annual Perseid Meteor Shower turned Central Oregon's eyes to the sky. For some continued star-gazing, here are some nearby—and not so close—locations for taking in the marvels of the sky on any optimal evening.
Simply go where it's dark
A quick drive out to Tumalo Reservoir Road (head west until the road turns to dirt) might be good enough if you don't have time to drive further or to hike into the Sister's Wilderness. Pull over anywhere along the way and look up. If you haven't driven that road before, especially near the former dam, it is suggested you scout it out during daylight as it gets narrow in places.
A drive up the Cascade Lakes Highway is always a good bet. Bring a kayak or canoe and sit out on Sparks, Devils, or Elk Lake to view from the water.
The Dee Wright Observatory must have been located atop McKenzie Pass for a reason so, while the road remains open, be sure to visit the historic structure for some nice time-lapse photos that includes views of the Sisters or Belknap Crater.
Pine Mountain Observatory
Southeast of Bend lies Pine Mountain Observatory, welcoming visitors on Friday and Saturday nights through the last weekend in September. Organized programs begin at 8:45 pm, with earlier times in August and September, offering telescopes for viewing until at least 11 pm.
For those not wanting to drive back to Bend, a primitive, and free, Forest Service campground is across the road with four drive-in and 10 hike-in tent sites.
To get to Pine Mountain, take Highway 20 east until just past the closed Millican store, and turn onto the dirt road, traveling an additional eight miles to the observatory.
For information, call 541-382-8331.
Indian Trail Spring in the Ochocos
About one hour east of Prineville sits Indian Trail Springs, a site that the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) uses to hold "one of the three darkest and largest star parties in the United States."
Each year in August, the museum hosts the week-long event, drawing amateur astronomers from around the world to share telescopes and an unimpeded view of the heavens.
For directions, visit oregonstarparty.org/oregonstarparty
Mark your calendars
Jim Todd, director of Space Science at OMSI, is already looking forward to August 21, 2017, when a total solar eclipse's path will cross over Madras, not reoccurring for another 152 years. Todd anticipates large crowds descending upon the state to view the three-minute event, and the museum is making plans to take over the Madras airport to accommodate them.