SMokey Jack Observatory
If you are looking to book the Smokey Jack Observatory for a free, private viewing hosted by one of our trained Star Guides, you can make a reservation here!
The Smokey Jack observatory (SJO), located in The Bluff Park at the west end of Main Street across from Cliff Lanes in Westcliffe, For directions using Google Maps, click here. The SJO was formally dedicated on the night of Friday, November 13, 2015, with over 100 people attending. It houses one of the most powerful telescopes in Colorado, attracting star lovers from around the world!
The SJO is named in honor of Suzanne B. Jack (1946-2004), known to all as Smokey Jack, the founder and first Dark Skies’ President. Smokey loved the beautiful night skies of the Wet Mountain Valley, and she wanted others to be able to admire the Milky Way. Although no longer with us, she left behind a legacy of education about light pollution that continues to spread, protecting our pristine dark skies for future generations.
Construction and Dedication of the SMokey Jack Observatory
The SJO was designed and constructed in the spring and summer of 2015. The observatory is 12' by 12' with a retractable roof, and houses a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with computer guided pointing and tracking. It is located on the southwest corner of The Bluff, just below the grassy level of the park used for festivals.
The Smokey Jack Observatory was designed by Jim Bradburn and Charles Keyes. Due to the generosity of local merchants (Paul Wenke from Ace Hardware, Frank Oberlin from Critical Path Metal Works, and Kent Beach from Beach Ready Mix Concrete), all the construction materials have been donated-in-kind! Plus volunteers John Peleaux, construction leader with Mike Liebman, Bob Remington, Bob Tobin, Bob Huestis, and Jack Naff, did all the construction work. Wireless service to support telescope operation for the observatory is being provided by DD Wireless.