Advanced Observing Program at Kitt Peak Visitor Center
Frequently Asked Questions
“What type of experience do I need to participate in this program?”
None. This is a public program, accessible to anyone that has the desire to discover the Universe! The participants that have visited so far have spanned the spectrum of interests and experiences. For example, Hanna Hudecek was a 76 year old woman (and proud of it) whose dream was to visit Kitt Peak and look through a telescope at the stars, having never done so before. Other participants have had specific ideas about the way they spent their night. Regardless, everyone goes home with images (or memories) that make them happy.
“Will there be someone there to help me with the telescope and equipment?”
Yes. A guide will be up with you the entire night. In this role he can do as much or as little as you might want—from a full-fledged “Guide to the Universe” to just a telescope operator. The choice is yours.
“Why is the $90 room and board fee an additional, separate cost?”
The $550 ($650 for CCCD Imaging) covers one night of observing for up to 2 participants. The $90 goes towards the room and meals. This money technically is paid to administration and not the Visitor Center; thus it is a separate and non-refundable cost.
“If I come alone, will I be attending with another individual?”
No. If you come alone you would have the telescope for yourself for the cost of $640 (550+90). If you bring a single relative or friend the facility is yours for $730 (550+90+90), or $700 (550+75+75) if you stay in the same room.
“What happens if it is cloudy on my night?”
Obviously this is one of the most important questions that can be asked. First of all, there is some “risk” involved in trying to participate in this program. Most visitors are from out-of-state and so make plans to fly to Tucson. If the weather should become uncooperative, we cannot refund plane tickets, travel expenses, etc. However, feel comforted that professional astronomers are in exactly the same boat, under exactly the same skies. In a sense, they have even more invested: should a professional astronomer fail to collect the needed data on the particular nights awarded, that astronomer must go to “the end of the line.” This wait could be many months or even years!
Should you arrive on the mountain and the weather makes observing impossible, we do not ask you to pay the $550 for the observations (since the observations never happened). The room & board fee ($90/person/night, single occupancy, $75/person/night double occupancy) still has to be paid in order cover the accomodations.
“Can I take my images (pictures) home?”
Yes. Any images you create can be taken home in a number of ways and in a number of formats. We will attempt to provide you with whatever is most convenient for you. We do not have a good printer on the mountain, so it will be up to you to take your images to a copy center (Kinko’s, Alphagraphics, etc) to get hardcopies if you wish to have them. We can save images on CD or they can be posted on the World Wide Web for later retrieval.
“Do I need media for images I take?”
We have CD-ROM writers/burners, so we can send you home with your images on a CD. This is the only convenient way for you to keep all of your images.
“What is the best way to make a reservation?”
The best way to make a reservation is to use our on-line Reservation Request Form, and you will get a response within 24 hours. Otherwise, you can reach us at 520-318-8330. It may take a day or so for us to get back to you by phone.