Girl using solar scope at RFO
Student using our solar scope

The Robert Ferguson Observatory (RFO), operated by the Valley of the Moon Observatory Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has been in operation since 1996. RFO’s mission is to offer educational science and astronomy programs for students, the public, and in support of educators.

Students on the Planet Walk trail
Students reaching Pluto at our Planet Walk

RFO gives steep discounts to schools for programs at the observatory. An evening event includes an observatory tour, presentation, and docent-led viewing through all 3 telescopes, and can include overnight camping in a group campground. Daytime events can include a presentation, observatory tour, solar observing, docent-led Planet Walk, and other activities, depending on the grade level of the students.

Can’t make it to the observatory? Let the observatory come to you! We offer both daytime and evening programs at schools which can include a presentation, solar or nighttime observing, and other activities.

kids looking through telescope
An exciting night of looking at deep-sky objects

We fulfill our mission of inspiring youth to pursue further education or careers in astronomy and STEM fields through our Young Astronomers and Striking Sparks programs. Young Astronomers meets monthly and our Striking Sparks program has awarded telescopes to youth in the community annually for 38 years. Students from 1st through 8th grade need to complete an essay, attend at least one event at the observatory, and need to be recommended by their teacher. 

We strive to broaden our reach to underserved populations in Sonoma and surrounding counties, and offer our public programs for free to EBT-card holders through the Museums for All program.

Youth are encouraged to volunteer for the observatory which gives them the opportunity to learn how to operate our telescopes, work with the public, and participate in research projects and astrophotography projects.

Demonstrating to kids how gravity in a black hole works by holding a blanket with some balls at the center
Demonstrating how gravity in a black hole works

School Astronomy Nights and Public Outreach

Contact Stephanie Derammelaere at sd at for more information, and to schedule a School Astronomy Night or other Public Outreach Program.

Skip to content