Although telescopes are commonly employed to view the night sky, their lenses can also be used to start campfires on faraway planets in order to befriend s'mores-loving aliens. Light a fire under your celestial curiosity with today's Groupon to Kitt Peak National Observatory, located in the Tohono O'odham Reservation about 60 miles southwest of downtown Tucson. Admission to the visitor center is free. Choose between the following options:
- For $6, you get tickets for two for a guided tour (a $15.50 value), plus 10% off purchases at the gift store.
- For $30, you get a family membership (a $60 value).
Kitt Peak National Observatory gives visitors a look into starry skies with the world's largest collection of optical telescopes. Towering over the Sonoran Desert and reaching up to 6,875 feet above sea level, the observatory harbors 25 optical and two radio telescopes. Starting at the visitor center, tour-goers will receive an introductory discussion about the observatory, which includes the differences between a celestial star and a Hollywood star, before heading off to view one of three telescopes. The McMath-Pierce solar telescope is the world's largest solar telescope, peering into the sun's photosphere with a diameter of 1.6 meters. A 2.1-meter telescope was built in the early 1960s and has been used in many astrophysics discoveries, and the Mayall 4-meter telescope is an 18-story structure that proffers a 360-degree view of the Sonoran Desert.
With today’s deal, skyward-looking guests can also opt for the family membership to receive a slew of benefits, including unlimited admission to mountaintop telescope tours and four complimentary guest passes. A membership also awards members discounts on classes and special programs, a 15% discount to the nightly observing program, and 10% off at the museum gift shop. Also included is free general admission to more than 275 science centers in the Association of Science-Technology Centers Passport Program, which makes members feel as important as the man who discovered science.
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.