Boasting over 300 clear nights a year, Kitt Peak National Observatory, located about an hour outside of Tucson (Arizona), offers stunning view of the night sky.
Kitt Peak has the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes, 21 in all, and offers a number of viewing programs sure to get you hooked on Astronomy.
Daily observatory tours begin at 10 am, 11:30 am, and 1:30 pm, and last approximately one hour. You’ll get to see the telescopes from a gallery, and tour guides will provide you with information about the work going on at the observatory. It’s an informative tour, and the only downside is that there is no telescope observation during daylight hours. Although there is no official charge to visit the observatory, a recommended donation is $2 for adults and $1 for children. It’s worth it!
The Nightly Observing Program is an introduction to the night sky with a star chart and binoculars so that you can identify what you are seeing as you gaze toward the heavens. This is followed up with a look through one of the three public telescopes, giving you an even more amazing view. The charge for the program is $36 for adults, $31 for students and seniors, with ID. This is a VERY popular program, and reservations are required. You should plan to book about one month in advance. Visit the website or call (520) 318-8726. I’ve not yet been able to schedule a night observation, but it’s something that I’d really like to do.
If you can’t make it to Tucson, you can still visit Kitt Peak with their Virtual Tour, or check out the webcams which are update every minute.
NOTE: The night program is not operated during mid-July through August due to desert weather conditions.