Stars are like attractive neighbors; they're best observed at night through optical telescopes from a great distance. Today's Groupon lets you experience how professional star-stalkers view the night sky: for $2, you get a ticket to your choice of one of three telescope day tours (up to a $7.75 value, depending on the time of year and age of ticketholder) at Kitt Peak National Observatory, located on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Kitt Peak is the home of the world's largest collection of optical telescopes.
The Kitt Peak National Observatory is sprinkled with 24 optical and two radio telescopes, and it is also home to eight astronomical research institutions. And during one of three hour-long guided day tours, you'll witness these high-quality telescopes in their natural habitat, under skies unspoiled by city lights or Lucy with her garish diamonds. The first tour (starts at 10 a.m.) can take you to the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, the world's largest solar telescope, which was completed in 1962 and is used to research the sun's wavelengths. In times of crisis, its magnified pinpoint of solar energy can also be used to burn giant ants. On the second tour (starts at 11:30 a.m.), you can take a gander at the 2.1-meter telescope: a massive optical telescope used almost every night as a massive star finder that has personally spotted the first pulsating white dwarf, the first gravitational lens, and the Lyman-alpha forest. The final voyage explores the sexy ground-sky relationship of the Mayall 4-meter telescope, the largest and most popular youngster on Kitt Peak's optical playground. This tour offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape from the visitor gallery and lasts 1.5–2 hours.
If you haven’t observed Kitt Peak's impressive telescopes, then what you thought were telescopes were most likely cunningly disguised Louisville Sluggers. You can buy multiple Groupons as gifts, so treat star-crossed lovers and any friends who have looked up at night and wondered why there aren't more crime-solving television series starring Ice-T to a day of long-distance lookery at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Telescope tours and times may change without notice due to maintenance issues and weather conditions.
With a TripAdvisor rating of 4.5 owl eyes, Kitt Peak National Observatory is the number 5 Tucson attraction from a list of 202. The observatory, which also has research facilities at the University of Arizona, is the number 4 attraction on 10Best.com:
Kitt Peak National Observatory
High above the Sonoran desert, on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, the Kitt Peak National Observatory studies the universe with the world's largest collection of telescopes. Throughout the day, volunteers lead tours of three of the telescopes, including the world's largest solar telescope. On those chilly desert evenings, visitors can choose from one of three nighttime programs according to interest level. Many take part in the Nightly Observing Program and view the Moon, distant planets and far-off galaxies through 20- and 16-inch telescopes. Advance reservations are required for all nighttime programs. Visit www.noao.edu/kpvc for details.