If you’ve always wanted to see the Southern Hemisphere’s fabulous skies from Down Under, here’s your chance! Come along on Sky & Telescope’s 11-day journey — the perfect blend of sightseeing, behind-the-scenes observatory visits, and telescopic stargazing from remarkably dark locations.

Australian astro views

Join leading Australian astronomer, guide, and author Fred Watson on a remarkable journey to Australia. You'll visit top observatories like Siding Spring and Parkes, home of the 64-meter radio telescope made famous by the 2000 movie The Dish. You’ll tour historic parts of Sydney, hike in the stunning Blue Mountains, enjoy wine-tasting in Mudgee, and stargaze in the incredible dark skies of southeastern Australia, among many other activities.

Our trusted travel partner for this tour is Sydney-based Dark Sky Traveller, which conducts general tours worldwide but specializes in astronomy-themed tours. Its owner, Marnie Ogg, herself a veteran of travel to more than 75 countries, will be in day-to-day charge of our tour.

The tour dates are March 23 to April 4, 2025. This will be a great opportunity not only to immerse yourself in Australia’s rich astronomical and cultural heritage but also to revel in the amazing celestial sights — the Southern Cross, Magellanic Clouds, massive star clusters, and more — that populate the far-southern night sky.

Reserve your spot today! Register by completing this form.

Click below to get full details:
• Tour highlights
• Tour accommodations
• Itinerary for this 11-day tour
• What is and isn’t included; what to expect
• Pricing & Terms


The idyllic lifestyle, friendly locals, and drop-dead natural beauty of this approachable metropolis and its attractions explain why Sydney tops so many travelers’ wish lists. The famed harbor is home to the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can explore the harbor, get a behind-the-scenes tour of the opera house, and climb the bridge — with time to spare for people-watching at a waterfront café.

Sydney Harbour panorama
Few cities can match the spectacular skyline of Sydney, Australia. Its iconic Opera House is recognized the world over.
vaiem4 / dreamstime.com

Siding Spring Observatory
Nestled amid the dark sanctuary provided by Warrumbungle National Park, Siding Spring Observatory (SSO) is Australia’s premier optical and infrared astronomical observatory. Its cluster of instruments are anchored by Anglo-Australian Telescope, whose 3.9-meter mirror makes AAT the largest optical telescope in the country. Its robotic spectrograph can observe hundreds of galaxies and stars simultaneously. Nearby are the 2.2-meter Advanced Technology Telescope and 1.2-meter United Kingdom Schmidt Telescope.

Anglo-Australian Telescope aerial-interior
Commissioned in 1974, the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) was constructed in Australia so that astronomers could explore some of the most exciting regions of the sky (particularly the Magellanic Clouds). It was one of the last large telescopes to be constructed using a traditional equatorial mounting, in which one of its rotation axes is parallel to the Earth’s axis.
Dome: Doug Gray / Warrumbungle Shire Council; interior: Australian National University

Radio Astronomy
When it comes to professional astronomy, Australia is renowned for its collection of world-class radio dishes. The best known of these is the 64-meter radio telescope officially named Murriyang but also known as “The Dish,” made famous for its role in relaying live television images of Apollo 11’s lunar landing. An even bigger receiver sits in Tidbinbilla Valley, about 20 miles southeast of Canberra. This 70-meter behemoth, and a quarter of smaller dishes roughly half that size, are used by NASA to track spacecraft throughout the solar system. Finally, the lesser-known but equally impressive Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) is an interferomtric array of six 22-meter antennas used for radio astronomy. It’s located near the rural town of Narrabri some 300 miles northwest of Sydney.

Australia Telescope Compact Array at sunrise
The Australia Telescope Compact Array has six identical dishes, each 73 feet across. Five of the dishes can be moved along a 2-mile-long railway track; the sixth antenna is situated 2 miles west of the end of the main track.

Southern-sky Stargazing
If you’re willing to travel with us deep into the Southern Hemisphere, we’ll make sure that you have multiple opportunities to glance, gaze, and gawk at the amazing celestial treasures of the southern sky. This tour offers three opportunities to do that. The first will be at historic Sydney Observatory, whose hilltop setting offers dramatic views of the city below. Later you’ll have telescopic feasts from two from certified dark-sky settings: Warrumbungle National Park and River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve.

Stargazing in Australia
Along with all the sights you’ll see by day, this tour includes multiple nights of stargazing. Among those are an evening at the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve, a pristiner expanse of 1,500 square miles. Another is historic Sydney Observatory, which overlooks the city.
Left: themurrayriver.com; right: James Horan / Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences


InterContinental Sydney room
InterContinental Sydney (★★★★★ 2 nights)
Nestled in Circular Quay with unparalleled views across the Harbour City, the InterContinental Sydney has been an icon for more than 35 years. Set within the restored Treasury Building of 1851, this luxury hotel’s exquisite guest rooms boast views of Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, or the city skyline.
Station Motel dining room
Station Motel Parkes (★★★★ 1 night)
This countryside venue offers 38 extremely well-appointed rooms for both the weary traveler and business clients coming to town. With a sophistication not seen in country motels, the uniquely Australian feel won't let you down in either comfort or style.
Acacia Motor Lodge
Acacia Motor Lodge, Coonabarabran (★★★★ 2 nights)
Nestled at the foothills of the Warrumbungle Ranges, one of the region’s most accessible National Parks, the Acacia Motor Lodge offers unexpected comfort. It is known for spacious rooms and a central location within easy walking distance shops and facilities within Coonabarabran, the “astronomy capital of Australia.”
Parklands Resort gazebo
Parklands Resort, Mudgee (★★★★ 1 night)
Many travelers make Parklands Resort their accommodation of choice when visiting Mudgee, because it offers an ideal mix of comfort and convenience. This “home away from home” has comfortable, air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, room service, plus a sunny terrace and picnic area.
Mannum Motel patio
Mannum Motel (★★★ 2 nights)
This cozy motel is just 54 miles from the bustling city of Adelaide, and yet it seems like a world away. It’s situated next to the mighty Murray River, at the end of Mannum’s main street, so it serves as a relaxing getaway. The 27 rooms are being upgraded to 4-star quality, and most of the town’s facilities are within easy walking distance.
Crowne Plaza Canberra atrium
Crowne Plaza Canberra (★★★★ 2 nights)
When you arrive along a tree-lined driveway and enter the light and spacious lobby atrium, you’ll be welcomed by our friendly front desk staff. Then head to your well-equipped room, some with park views. This hotel’s central location is a short stroll to the city’s many shops, bars, and restaurants.


Australia 2025 tour map
DateItinerary at a GlanceAccommodationMeals
Sunday, March 23Depart home for Sydney(overnight flight)meals aloft
Tuesday, March 25Arrive in SydneyInterContinental SydneyD
Wednesday, March 26Sydney sightseeingInterContinental SydneyB, tea, D
Thursday, March 27Blue Mountains, MudgeeParklands Resort B, D
Friday, March 28Siding Spring ObservatoryAcacia Motor LodgeB, D
Saturday, March 29Narrabri, Sandstone CavesAcacia Motor LodgeB, D
Sunday, March 30Parkes Radio TelescopeStation Motel ParkesB, D
Monday, March 31CanberraCrowne Plaza CanberraB, L
Tuesday, April 1NASA Deep Space ComplexCrowne Plaza CanberraB, D
Wednesday, April 2Canberra, stargazingMannum MotelB, D
Thursday, April 3Murray River, stargazingMannum MotelB, L, D
Friday, April 4Depart Canberra, return home(overnight flight)B, meals aloft

Day 1  (Tuesday, March 25, 2025): Arrive in Sydney
•  Arrive at Sydney International Airport after overnight flight (1 day lost crossing Intl. Date Line)
•  Private transfer to InterContinental Hotel
•  Check-in at the hotel (early check-in included)
•  Explore the Sydney Opera House with an afternoon guided tour
•  Dinner on the Sydney Opera House Forecourt
Overnight at the InterContinental Hotel (D)

Day 2  (Wednesday, March 26, 2025):  Sydney - Harbor Cruise - Sydney Observatory
•  Breakfast at the InterContinental Hotel
•  Morning Tea harbor cruise to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House
•  Afternoon visit to the Royal Botanic Garden; wander at your leisure
•  Evening visit to the Sydney Observatory for stargazing and astronomy-related activities
Overnight at the InterContinental Hotel (B, morning tea, D)

Day 3  (Thursday, March 27, 2025):  Sydney - Blue Mountains - Mudgee
• Breakfast at the InterContinental Hotel
•  Morning drive to the Blue Mountains (about 2 hours)
•  Explore the Blue Mountains, including a visit to the Scenic Railway
•  Lunch at Leura (on your own)
•  Continue your journey to Mudgee (about 3 hours)
•  Evening wine tasting in Mudgee and dinner
Overnight at Parklands Resort & Conference Centre - (B, D)

The Three Sisters are an unusual rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. They emerged about 200 million years ago as the sandstone of the surrounding Blue Mountains was eroded over time by wind, rain, and rivers. According to aboriginal legend, the sisters were named Wimalah, Meeni, and Gunedoo.
Dilff / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Day 4  (Friday, March 28, 2025):  Mudgee - Siding Spring Observatory
•  Check out of Parklands Resort & Conference Centre
•  Drive to Siding Spring Observatory (about 3½ hours)
•  Tour of Siding Spring Observatory
•  Dinner and stargazing experience at Warrumbungle National Park Dark Sky Park
Overnight at Acacia Motor Lodge - (B, D)

Day 5  (Saturday, March 29, 2025):  Siding Spring Observatory - Narrabri
•  Morning visit to the Australia Telescope Compact Array in Narrabri
•  Leisure time in Narrabri
•  Visit to Sandstone Caves with indigenous guide (2-mile walk)
•  Afternoon visit to Pilliga Potter, with German dinner included
Overnight at Acacia Motor Lodge  (B, D)

Day 6  (Sunday, March 30, 2025):  Siding Spring Observatory - Parkes Telescope
Visit the Emu Farm - Emu Logic
•  Drive to Parkes (about 2 hours)
•  Visit the Parkes Radio Telescope
•  Evening dinner at the Parkes Dish with the local astronomical society
Overnight at Station Hotel Parkes  (B, D)

Day 7  (Monday, March 31, 2025):  Canberra - Mount Stromlo Observatory
•  Check out of Parkes Station Hotel
•  Drive to Canberra (about 2½ hours)
•  Visit the Mount Stromlo Observatory with lunch
•  Check in to Crowne Plaza Canberra
•  Evening at leisure in Canberra (500m to restaurants)
Overnight at Crowne Plaza Canberra (B, L)

Day 8  (Tuesday, April 1, 2025):  Canberra - Deep Space Complex
•  Morning visit to NASA Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
•  Afternoon visit to the National Gallery
•  Evening final dinner at Lanyon Homestead in Canberra or Wildbark Canberra
Overnight at Crowne Plaza Hotel  - (B, D)

NASA tracking dishes near Canberra
Located at Tidbinbilla, just outside Australia's capital city, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is one of three Deep Space Network stations around the world. The largest dish, just above center, has a diameter of 230 feet (70 meters).

Day 9  (Wednesday, April 2, 2025):  Adelaide - Transfer to Mannum
•  Morning flight to Adelaide
•  Visit to the Australian Space Agency Museum
•  Drive to Mannum (about 2 hours)
•  Check-in to your accommodation at Mannum
•  Stargazing on the Murray River Dark Sky Reserve
Overnight in Mannum Motel - (B, D)

Day 10  (Thursday, April 3, 2025):  Mannum - Relaxation/Exploration - Stargazing
•  Full day at leisure to enjoy Mannum
•  Steam Paddle River cruise with lunch
•  Stargazing on the Murray River Dark Sky Reserve
Overnight in Mannum Motel (- (B, L, D)

Day 11  (Friday, April 4, 2025 - Depart Mannum/Adelaide
•  Check out of your Mannum accommodation
•  Transfer to Adelaide airport for your journey onward
• If returning to U.S., overnight flight (1 day gained crossing Intl. Date Line)
(overnight flight, meals aloft)


•           Accommodations in 4- and 5-star hotels
•           Tour director and local experts exclusive to Sky & Telescope tour
•           Sky & Telescope representative
•           One-way flight from Canberra to Adelaide
•           Private transfers between airports and hotels
•           Land transport by private motor coach
•           Meals as indicated on the itinerary including memorable group dinners
•           Entrance fees for all excursions and visits listed in the itinerary
•           Water during outings
•           Service charges and taxes
•           Normal administrative expenses, coordination, invoicing, and mailings


•            Transportation to/from your home airport
•            International flight to/from Australia
•            Cost of additional nights of accommodation or extensions
•            Tips to local guides and drivers (gratuities are discretionary)
•            Cost of personal items (souvenirs, laundry, phone calls, etc)
•            Cost of optional activities not listed in the itinerary
•            Meals not listed in the itinerary
•            Beverages consumed with meals
•            Baggage handling
•            Travel insurance
•            Medical expenses
•            Visa fees


This exclusive Sky & Telescope expedition is designed for travelers who wish to visit Australia’s most famous astronomical facilities, stargaze under dark skies, and spend time sightseeing in some of Australia’s most iconic cities.

March-April is early autumn in Australia. At this time of year, the weather in eastern Australia is generally pleasant, with typical daytime temperatures near 75°F and evening temperatures near 60°F. On average, rain occurs every few days. So everyday clothing plus a light jacket or windbreaker are recommended. Flies and other insects can be around at anytime, particularly after rain, so consider bringing repellent and/or a hat or clothing with netting.

The group will travel to several different locales and therefore will stay in a series of lodgings for one and two days at a time. To enjoy this experience, please consider that hotel accommodations outside of Australia’s major cities are generally high-quality but sometimes lacking in amenities such as elevators or room service that are more common in the United States. Travel segments by private motorcoach might be as long as 8 hours per day.

You must be in good physical and mental health and be able to keep up with the pace of the group. Those requiring extraordinary assistance must be accompanied by someone who can and will provide all required assistance. A few locations are not suitable for traversing by wheelchair; for example, the Siding Spring and Sydney observatories both require climbing flights of stairs. Daily activities will involve some walking, sometimes over uneven terrain for short distances (up to ¼ mile), though visiting the Sandstone Caves near Narrabri will require a walk of about 2 miles. In certain situations, deviating from the marked pathways could put you at risk of injury.

Dark skies over Warrumbungle National Park
The Large Magellanic Cloud accentuates a night sky filled with stars over Breadknife in Warrumbungle National Park, a certified dark-sky park.
Alex Aitken / Destination NSW


Aussie Astronomy Odyssey 2025$6,950$7,950

Note: Tour prices are in U.S. dollars and are based on costs and exchange rates in effect at the time of posting. As such, prices listed here are subject to change.


  • Miminum tour size: This tour requires a minimum of 16 participants; should that minimum not be met by December 15, 2024, AAS Sky Publishing LLC and Dark Sky Traveller reserve the right to levy a surcharge or to cancel the tour (in which case all deposits made will be refunded fully).
  • To make a reservation: A reservation request can be submitted by completing this form. Reservations are acknowledged in order of receipt. Dark Sky Traveller handles all invoicing.
  • Deposits: An initial payment of US$1,000 per person, plus a US$25 service fee, is required to secure your reservation. Final payment is due by December 15, 2024. Payments can be made by credit card or by bank transfer.
  • Late booking: Reservations made after December 15, 2024, will require an additional customer-service fee of $295.
  • Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellation requests must be submitted by email to Marnie Ogg at Dark Sky Traveller. All advanced payments, less a US$500 per person service fee, are refundable until December 15, 2024. No refunds will be made after December 15, 2024. Also, no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features or for any part of the program in which you choose not to participate.
  • Itinerary: Although every effort will be explored to maintain the planned itinerary, to the best of our ability. The itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of AAS Sky Publishing LLC and Dark Sky Traveller. All tour prices are based on costs and U.S. dollar exchange rates in effect at the time of posting. As such, the prices listed here are subject to change. In particular, any increases in the fares for in-tour transportation, security, and/or fuel surcharges will be paid by the participants. Sky & Telescope and/or Dark Sky Traveller will inform participants of any changes prior to departure.
  • Travel insurance: This will be mandatory, and you will need to provide proof of coverage prior to the tour. We highly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance including “Cancel for Any Reason” because the cancellation penalty listed here will apply. Most insurance plans need to be purchased within 14 days of paying the initial deposit in order to waive preexisting medical conditions as well as to purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” insurance. Neither AAS Sky Publishing LLC nor Dark Sky Traveller accepts liability for any airline-cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable airline ticket or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for the tour.
  • Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information presented here. Dark Sky Traveller, AAS Sky Publishing, LLC, and Sky & Telescope are not responsible for errors in or damages resulting from use of the information contained herein. Information presented here is subject to change.
  • Other Terms & Conditions: As part of the consideration and right to participate in this tour, each participant will be asked to sign a liability release, an assumption of risk, and a hold-harmless agreement. You will find these on the Reservation & Payment Form when you register for this tour.
  • Questions: Please contact Marnie Ogg at Dark Sky Traveller.
Reserve your spot today! Register by completing this form.