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“Bright stars for Kitt Peak Astronomy”

Kitt Peak National Observatory
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Sells
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Located 56 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, the observatory is a working research station situated high above on Kitt Peak.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Mountain View, CA
Level Contributor
4 reviews
“Bright stars for Kitt Peak Astronomy”
Reviewed January 26, 2013

We went for a night tour of Kitt Peak National Observatory, early Nov. It is called Nightly Observing Program, and a bargain at $49. They provide a sandwich+snack. But the program keeps everyone engaged throughout the night, with explanations that start with the sunset (possible green flash) and ends with a full blown observation of multiple astronomical phenomena in a very real observatory. The tour guides are experts and highly enthusiastic. After sunset is done, we get an general explanation of the sky with amazing green laser pointers, detailing constellations, our Milky Way, and many more. They then switch to binoculars and continue the tour in more detail. And they finally end the night with observations through a 30-inch telescope, where we saw planetary nebulae, globular clusters, double and triple binaries, and a number of planets (Jupiter was magnificent, with its red spot!). Presenters were excellent, enthusiastic and will answer any question. The visitor center is comfortable and with a nice store with anything from light knickknacks to serious astronomy books. I will definitely come again.

Visited November 2012
Thank sfaamm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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316 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Knoxville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Kitt Peak”
Reviewed January 23, 2013

Dress warmly, especially if you go in January. Expect it to be around 10 degrees or colder.
Very nice program, informative - just wish we had the opportunity to spend a bit more time and utilize more and different types of telescopes.

Visited January 2013
1 Thank MoMFace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
163 reviews
92 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
“The Night Tour”
Reviewed December 14, 2012

Here is the chance to watch the stars. The excellent program give your iagaination a chance to soar up to the stars and the comprehensive program using the naked eye and then the field glasses and finally the telescope allows the wonder to be fulfilled

Visited December 2012
1 Thank TravellingNature
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A Mecca for the astronomy enthusiast”
Reviewed November 20, 2012

I visited the place, partly work related and partly for leisure and I can strongly recommend it. The visitor centre is a nice place with exhibits clarifying what an observatory does. There is also a gift shop and a very helpful lady at the checkout. The highlight for me was walking around to see all the domes and the Mac Math Solar Telescope. Knowing the observatory for three decades, this was my first visit and albeit I have seen many observatories before, I found the public was seriously taken into account on this one. The place even offers public observing, obviously using the telescope in the dome at the visitor's centre - a facility that puts many public observatories I know to shame by it's sheer size - not talking about the Arizona weather being more favourable than the one in the UK. ;) It must be awesome to join a public observing night at this location, however we had to catch our plane back to rainy UK at the same day we visited. I am definitely up to go there again once I have the opportunity.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank Juergen S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
45 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Nightly Observing Program is "stellar!"”
Reviewed November 19, 2012

We are science & astronomy buffs and for us the night program was a real treat that re-ignited our interest in the stars. Our presenters were all excellent -- engaging speakers but also very well-versed in the science and technology of astronomy. The program seemed suitable both for beginners and people with some knowledge of astronomy. The evening had a good mix of presentations (history of Kitt Peak, some of the research being conducted there, etc.) and hands-on activities like sunset viewing, star gazing with a planisphere, star gazing with binoculars, and using one of the actual (small) telescopes. The evening starts with a box meal which was tasty, but a little strange to be eating at 4:15 in the afternoon. Given the length of the program and the cold conditions, I think the food probably is a good idea to keep people happy!

Our program started at 4:15 and ended up around 9:15. They are not kidding about the need to dress warmly -- the day of our visit highs in Tucson were almost 80 but it was 45 degrees at Kitt Peak when we finished our program. Driving 1 mile down the mountain with shrouded headlights was not much of a hassle, and the "caravan" down the mountain was easier than I expected.

Side note: We arrived early and walked around a little with the self-guided tour. Without a lot of background, it's hard to appreciate what is going on at the telescopes, so guided tours would probably work best during the day.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank ZamiaV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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