The night sky has long puzzled humans, some claiming the white sparkles above were the tears of Zeus, whereas others wondered how light bulbs got up there in the first place. Unravel the mysteries of the final frontier with today's deal: for $30, you get a family membership (a $60 value) to Kitt Peak National Observatory, located on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. The membership covers any family members living at the same address and free admission to mountaintop telescope tours. Other perks include four complimentary guest passes, discounts on programs, members-only events, and free admission to 275 participating science centers, among other benefits.
Kitt Peak is home to the world's largest collection of optical telescopes. Sprinkled around the grounds are 24 optical and two radio telescopes, and it is also home to eight astronomical research institutions. Members can access all three hour-long guided day tours to witness these high-quality telescopes in their natural habitat––under skies unspoiled by city lights or Lucy with her garish diamonds.
The first tour (which 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 (which starts at 11:30 a.m.), you can take a gander at the 2.1-meter telescope––a gigantic 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 ground-sky relationship through the eye 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. Members also receive a 15% discount for the popular Nightly Observing Program, where participants get to explore the night sky through binoculars, planispheres, and the facility's impressive telescopes.
Telescope tours and times may change without notice due to maintenance issues and weather conditions.
- It was a great tour with a nice docent who was very patient with my 8 and 10 year old sons' questions. We got to go right up near the guts of the big telescope and see how it works and the view from the observation area was amazing! – folkmew, TripAdvisor
- This is a "must see" for all ages. – CATHY, Yahoo! Travel
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.
950 N Cherry Ave.
Tucson, Arizona 85719Get Directions