When you go to the mountains, the beach or the lake, you can always look up at the night sky.
“Just look up and enjoy the view,” Jerry Niehuser is famous for saying. The longtime manager at Sunriver’s Oregon Observatory has spent the past 30 years helping visitors foster their appreciation and understanding of the universe. He’s now leading sky tours at the brand new Hopservatory in Bend, the latest and most thrilling expansion of Worthy Brewing since it launched in 2013.
Bend is known for its killer craft brewery scene, but Worthy stands out with its recently added outdoor beer garden, banquet space and an open-air mezzanine bar, as well as a greenhouse and hop yard where they grow estate and experimental hops.
The three-story Hopservatory — with a spiral staircase winding around the outside to the top — is situated right in the center of it all, a family-friendly destination unto itself.
The ground-floor “Transporter” room is like an immersive art museum dedicated to the stars. An elaborate mosaic inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” sets the stage as you watch video clips about the cosmos before heading upstairs. The second-story “Control” room is a multi-media lab that will have you pondering the mysteries of the universe, like “How big is the universe?” and “How fast can we travel into space?”
Here are three ways to enjoy the Hopservatory:
- Pop in during open viewing hours (9-11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and take the stairs to the 17-foot rotating dome. The resident “sky guy” will help you identify objects like planets, galaxies, star clusters and nebulae in the night sky. There’s a suggested donation of $5; kids 6 and under are free.
- Book a public tour (offered 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday nights) of the dome and get a mini astronomy lesson through their 16-inch reflecting telescope. Tours are $5 each; kids 6 and under are free; and it’s limited to 20 people per slot.
- Stop by on a weekend for solar viewing, (1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) to view the sun through a refracting telescope with a white-light Orion solar filter to protect your eyes.
All proceeds from the Hopservatory support the Worthy Garden Club, a nonprofit that promotes scientific literacy through programs and events like a Central Oregon hop farm tour.