Advanced Observing Program at Kitt Peak Visitor Center
AOP Visitor Information
Thank you for choosing to participate in the Advanced Observing Program. So that your stay will be as comfortable and rewarding as possible please read and keep this important information.
- Check in is between 2:00pm and 4:00pm on your scheduled date. Please introduce yourself to the visitor center staff (cashier). You will then be given instructions on where to go to get your room assignment. At that point you will be allowed time to unpack and settle in. Call 520-318-8726 to inform the daytime staff of any problems, schedule changes, flight delays etc. Please leave a number at which we can contact you. You’re more than welcome to visit the observatory earlier if you so wish; however, you will not be able to get into your room until 2 pm.
- Please fill out and send in the Night Lunch/Breakfast form within 1 week of your arrival. Dinner is all you can eat cafeteria style. Please note that we feed you well so order accordingly. You need to use one form per person for each night that you stay. You can pick up either your night lunch or breakfast from the refrigerator in the dining hall.
- Bring plenty of warm clothes and expect cold and wind. At an elevation of 6,875 feet the temperatures are generally 15-20 degrees cooler than Tucson even in the “warm” months. Winter jackets, hats and gloves are typical observing gear. Dress in layers.
- Other than cloudy skies, if the weather seems questionable call the Visitor Center before you drive to the mountain to check on the road and weather conditions. Be certain to leave your local contact information so that your telescope operator can call you if necessary.
- Plan on eating dinner sometime between 4:30 and 5:30pm. Details of where to go and when will be discussed when you arrive. If you arrive after 3:45 then you need to see the Night Staff at the visitor center for instructions. The nightly public program gets underway right before dark. Feel free to make a reservation by calling 520-318-8726 in advance. AOP guests get a substantial price break. The program ends generally 3 hours after sunset.
- The quoted price for your reservation is $550/$650 per night observing fee plus a $90 per person per night (single occupancy, $75/person/night double occupancy) room and board fee. The charge for cancellations that occur less than one month prior to your date is $100. You are not charged for bad weather.
- For Tucson tourist/hotel information please contact the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tucson is home to some world class attractions. Information can be found at The Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance.
- Download a printable map and directions to Kitt Peak [344 KB pdf].
Some useful web sites:
- http://www.noao.edu/outreach/aop/bestof.html (visit here to see CCD pictures)
AOP Check-In Instructions
Please follow these instructions (so bring this paperwork with you!) for easy check in. If need be, use the included map to get to each of these points:
- Pick up your room keys from the administration building. If no one is behind the counter, your key (card) will be hanging in small yellow envelope with your name on it. Pick up your flashlight there.
- Walk outside the entrance of the administration building and go to the end of the parking lot. You will be facing East and will be looking at the largest solar telescope in the world. If you look up the road to the left (North) you will see the Visitor Center from where you came and across the street to the right (behind the flag pole) you will find the kitchen where you will soon eat dinner (dinner is served from 4:30pm-5:45pm).
- Now you should visit your room by walking straight ahead (East) towards the solar observatory (McMath-Pierce Telescope). Beyond the two houses on the left you will find a driveway that leads up to Dorm #2. If necessary, you can park your vehicle at the top of this driveway.
- Once you find your room in Dorm #2 you are officially checked-in. We suggest that you introduce yourself to the nighttime staff at the Visitor Center. They may offer some suggestions about when to eat dinner and information about when your telescope operator will be available that evening.
Other Useful Information:
- Since you’re going to be up for most of the night it is a good idea to try to catch some sleep.
- Please bring all the necessary travel accessories like soap, shampoo, etc. Dorm rooms come with clean bedding and towels.
- Your guide arrival times vary. You will be contacted by your guide by 8 pm. The NOP guides will be busy getting ready for the nightly stargazing program however, they will be able to answer any questions that you may have.
- Since the observatory comes alive at night there are some safety issues you must follow. Walk with your flashlight on against traffic.
- The gift shop will be open at various time throughout the evening. Kitt Peak is known for its Tohono O’odham baskets (cheapest prices in town).
- At the end of your experience, please fill out the AOP evaluation sheet [78 KB PDF] and mail it in the self-stamped addressed envelope provided. Your comments are important to us as they help us to improve our programs.
- Please stay in designated areas only. Do not wander around the mountain or in telescope buildings not open to the public. All the public observation galleries in the Solar, 4-M and 2.1 telescopes close at 4pm.