Nightly Observing Program at Kitt Peak Visitor Center

Imagine a night under the stars at Kitt Peak National Observatory! Professional astronomers the world over aspire to do their research here, and now, you can experience the wonder of hands-on astronomy. We'll review recent advances in the field and provide an understandable perspective of our place in the universe. Then, we'll use our three telescopes to take a visual journey through the cosmos. Come experience Kitt Peak with us!

Quick Rate Info
  • Adults: $49
  • Seniors: $45 (age 62 and over)
  • Students: $45 (elementary to college)
  • Military: $45 (with current ID)
  • Group Rates Available


The Kitt Peak Visitor Center and NOAO do not provide travel to Kitt Peak. There is a shuttle service available for a fee. Please call Adobe Transport at 520-609-0593. Directions to Kitt Peak.

High atop Kitt Peak sits the largest collection of optical research telescopes anywhere in the world. Each evening, we offer a public program like no other. At our Visitor Center and its three observatories, the public is invited to learn about and gain hands-on experience with the latest astronomy has to offer. We’ll view everything from planets to distant galaxies using our 20- and 16-inch Ritchey-Chrétien telescopes from RC Optical Systems and our 16-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. This program is offered to a small group of participants EVERY NIGHT of the week (although we are closed from July 15 to September 1 for our monsoon season). Now it’s your chance to experience Kitt Peak!

While people have always requested a night under the stars on Kitt Peak, it wasn’t until the fall of 1996 that this became possible when the public programs were established. Then, in October 2002, expansion to a second dome allowed additional guests to take advantage of the program without increasing the number of participants in each observatory! In early 2006, we were fortunate enough to get our third observatory. Since fall of 2006 we have been scheduling guests in our new roll-off-roof observatory or ROR.

If you’ve only just found out about the Nightly Observing Program, please consider joining the nearly 7000 people each year who experience the thrill of an evening on Kitt Peak. Discovery and excitement await! Gift Certificates are available; call 520-318-8726.


State route 86 has a Border Patrol checkpoint. If you are visiting from outside the US please bring your passports to expedite the process. The checkpoint is eastbound so you will need your papers when you head back.

NEW Advanced NOP

You asked for it now you got it! For those who want a more in depth viewing experience, we have created the NEW Advanced NOP.

See what visitors are saying about the NOP program.

Now available: online reservations for NOP participants - click here.

Due to the popularity of this program, it is recommended that you make reservations 2 to 4 weeks prior to your visit. Sometimes we accept same day drop ins for our nights that are not filled. Please call before 2:30 that day if you wish to be added; any call after that will not be able to get a box dinner for the night.

You will be called on the day of the event for verification if the program is a go or no go. If you do not hear from us by 2pm then please call the visitor center at 520-318-8726.

NOP Programs are held regardless of cloudy or clear weather. In the event of cloudy weather a series of unique indoor presentations and hands on activities, behind the scene telescope tours, will stimulate your curiosity and interest; refunds or discounts due to inclement weather are not available. Cancellations must be made no later than 24 hours prior to check-in time for your program. NO SHOW FEEs will be charged for no shows if the 24hr cancellation is not met.

In the event of a canceled program by us due to dangerous weather, equipment problems, low numbers etc., no fees will be charged.

Credit Cards: We require a credit or debit card to create and hold your reservation. During peak season over 1,000 people per day seek one of the 50 or fewer seats available for an evening program. Therefore we wish to schedule and hold seats for only those who are seriously interested in attending. We do not charge your card in advance of your arrival. When you arrive you may pay your program fee with this card, another card, US currency, or personal check. We only charge the card on file if you or some of your party fail to show for the program or if you do not provide us with the required 24 hours notice of cancellation or request to reschedule.

This program is an introductory star-gazing program. Those looking for a more in-depth experience can reserve a night on the Advanced Observing Program.

View a time-lapse video of an NOP program!
[Credit: Frank Cianciolo/McDonald Observatory]