I still remember my 4th grade field trip to the UNO Planetarium.
I sat beneath a “sky” full of dazzling stars and felt this overwhelming awe for the magnitude of our universe.
I’m not an astronomer. Shoot, I can’t even find the big dipper most nights, but after this field trip, I have always loved sitting under the night sky.
Then, when I was in middle school, I accidentally observed the annual Perseid Meteor shower. My best friend and I were camping, and as any 13 year old teen girls do, we were up into the wee hours of the morning.
A blue streak shot across the sky and we both looked at each other, confused. And then, it was as if someone turned on the light show.
We sat under the sparkling sky in silence until dawn broke watching meteor after meteor fly through the air. We easily saw into the hundreds!
Every year since, I’ve tried to find the perfect spot for meteor showers to try to recreate the magic of seeing something so beautiful and literally, “out of this world”
So, when I discovered the Branched Oak Observatory, the inner star geek in me quietly rejoiced! If you haven’t heard about it yet, go ahead and put it on your Nebraska Bucketlist right now.
Branched Oak Observatory Location
This little star park is located just outside of Lincoln, in Raymond, Nebraska. It’s only about a 20 minute drive from Lincoln and just a smidge over an hour from Omaha, making it an absolutely perfect day (er, night) adventure from either town.
But don’t be fooled by it’s close proximity to the cities. It’s just far enough away to have no light pollution making for superb sky and star viewing.
Branched Oak Observatory Address: 14300 NW 98th St., Raymond, NE 1
Each week (pending weather), the group of star enthusiasts and phenomenal volunteers puts on a “star party” as well as educational events.
You can use their equipment to view amazing meteorite showers and other special astronomical events or just enjoy the night’s sky.
They have a classroom, roll-off roof observatory, a dome observatory, and a visitor’s center and are always continuing to grow their facilities.
You can see what events they have coming up by checking out their Facebook Page.
Volunteer at Branched Oaks Observatory
The entire facility is run completely by volunteers. Which means they are always looking for other science education professionals as well as astronomy enthusiasts to help out. You can get more details about how to volunteer on their website
If you’ve been around this site, you probably know by know that I love a good deal and am particular
cheap frugal. Which is why I LOVE that Branched Oaks Observatory is a non-profit of simply passionate people wanting to share in their love for astronomy…meaning it’s free!
Other Nebraska Star Observatories
If you are looking for other Nebraska Observatories or ways to do some star gazing, there are plenty throughout the state!
- Behlen Observatory (Mead)
- Boswell Observatory (Crete)
- Hyde Memorial Observatory (Lincoln)
- Sachtleben Observatory (Hastings)
- Seven Hills Observatory (Kearney)
- Merrit Reservoir Annual Star Party
- CSC Planetarium (Chadron)
- Fred G. Dale Planetarium (Wayne)
- J. M. McDonald Planetarium (Hastings)
- Kearney Planetarium (Kearney)
- Lueninghoener Planetarium (Fremont)
- Mallory Kountze Planetarium (Omaha)
- Ralph Mueller Planetarium (Lincoln)
Do you know a fellow star- enthusiast who would love a night under the open sky? Share this with them so they can plan a memorable evening!