Day Trips: Eagle Eye Observatory

Keep an eye on the night sky


Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Eagle Eye Observatory at Canyon of the Eagles outside of Burnet has expanded its astronomy program and added a new telescope for public viewing of the night sky.

Leading the nocturnal viewing is staff astronomer Jim Sheets. A transplant from Kansas, he visited the Hill Country after retirement and found a new home. He has been involved with the astronomy program at the resort for almost 10 years.


Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The Austin Astronomical Society ran the once-a-month public program from its inception in 1999 until last summer. Although trained in the earth sciences, Sheets says he has been an astronomer all his life. "It was a personal passion that became an obsession," he says.

This summer, Sheets has increased the star parties to five nights a week. The evening programs begin at twilight with a talk on what is in the sky and how the telescopes work. At dusk, when the sky turns dark, Sheets brings out the two telescopes.


Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Located in a secluded area on the banks of Lake Buchanan, Canyon of the Eagles has a sky free of light pollution. Opening the sliding roof of the observatory gives a panoramic view of the night sky. The computerized 14- and 12-inch telescopes allow Sheets to quickly pinpoint objects in the heavens so that visitors can see multiple celestial bodies in one evening.

Eagle Eye Observatory is open Wednesday through Sunday at Canyon of the Eagles. Admission to the program is free for guests of the resort, but the nominal day-use fee covers everyone else. Arrive early and enjoy the hiking trails or dinner in the resort's restaurant. For the schedule of astronomy programs, go to www.canyonoftheeagles.com.


1,450th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Eagle Eye Observatory, Canyon of the Eagles, Burnet, astronomy, Jim Sheets, Austin Astronomical Society, Lake Buchanan

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