Southern Arizona's clear skies are ideal to host the world's largest observatory. Located 56 miles southwest of ... More
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Southern Arizona's clear skies are ideal to host the world's largest observatory. Located 56 miles southwest of Tucson on top of a rugged mountain range, Kitt Peak features the world's largest collection of telescopes and frequently contributes to important astronomical discoveries. The observatory is open to the public.
This was an awesome road trip.We took route 86 out of Tucson to route 386.It was a long ride up the mountain,about as long as it took to get there from Tucson.The views where spectacular as we climbed.We went during the day without doing much research.If you think your going to go up there without the tour and see through the big telescopes that is`nt going to happen.We walked aound and got pictures ,there are some great viewpoints up top,and some panoramic scopes to look through.Access was limited to the telescopes you see on film.There are little rooms where you can go in and get a look,but that is it as far as access.It is hard to get pictures in the rooms due to the reflection off the glass,or/and the lack of light.Fun trip though and is something you should do once if you freqeunt the Tucson Area.
This is a "must see" for all ages. Plan in advance for the night observation package. Dress warmly for the temp is cold high up the mountain. If you arrive early there is a box meal and then the fun begins. We got to watch a mountain sunset which is not what you would expect. The guides keep you moving and teach you about sky watching. It was an awesome experience
Absolutely amazing. The night tour is very neat. It's far from everything which is a pain when there's an accident on the only road in or out, but you couldn't see any of the stars we saw if it weren't so far from city lights.
Definitely worth the money and worth the trip as most people will never get to see the universe like that ever again.
Kitt Peak is high enough in elevation to be somewhat of a retreat from the hot summer weather. It is interesting to walk around the facilities and see the telescopes. Unfortunately, you can not go inside.
If you are a bit of a planner, I highly recommend making a reservation for the "Night Tour". Also, try to do the night tour during a "New Moon" (no moon). You will be able to see all the stars very well. For the price of the tour, you get a small snack to tide you over and are divided into groups of about 15. You get an astronomer to give you a brief talk about the universe and all the constallations. You are outside at night looking at the stars while the astronomer points to the constallations with a laser pointer. It really works well. Then you get to look at planets and a galaxy through one of two 'visitor' telescopes.
Since you are outside at night, this is best done during the summer months. I would imagine it would be very cold during the winter at 8000 feet elevation.
If you are anywhere even close to Arizona, you won't regret changing your plans to include a visit to Kitt Peak. Make reservations for the Nightly Observing Program about two months in advance if you are planning on coming on a weekend night. The tour groups are small (which is a good thing) and those nights fill up fast. I've done the NOP 4 times in the last year and I'm always looking forward to my next visit.
The night tours are EXCELLENT. Looking through the 21" telescope at amazing start clusters really gave me a nice perspective on how small we are in the universe. The tour was entertaining and worth every cent.
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