Kitt Peak Visitor Center

Welcome to Kitt Peak National Observatory, home to one of the largest arrays of optical and radio telescopes in the world. In addition to conducting ground-breaking astronomical research, the Visitor Center programs are open to you through daytime guided tours and a variety of evening stargazing programs. Explore this website to see what’s right for you. Please note, no one may visit after dark for any purpose unless registered for one of our evening programs.

The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM for daytime visitors and volunteer-led tours. The Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Sometimes it is closed due to unforeseen circumstances, such as environmental events, that are beyond control, so please check before ascending the mountain.

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is your first stop on any visit and your springboard to informative daytime tours, nighttime stargazing and telescope viewing programs, fascinating exhibits, a terrific gift shop, and beautiful panoramic mountaintop views!



50th Anniversary Apollo 11 Moon Landing

July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon. To plan Apollo 11 and the other amazing Apollo missions, in 1964 the Apollo astronauts gathered around the large reflected image of the moon produced by the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope at Kitt Peak. The telescope’s design allowed for collective viewing of the moon rather than requiring individual observers to go to an eyepiece, a capability not available on any other telescope. They saw moonlight captured by a 2-meter heliostat when planning humanity’s first trip to another world.

More Information on Apollo 11


Escape the heat of the desert floor and join us atop Kitt Peak for a cool evening of stargazing.

New Summertime Evening Program: Dark Nebula Nights

Have you ever seen the Milky Way? If you've seen it often enough, you may have noticed that it's brighter in the summer than in the winter. Come observe the summer Milky Way under the dark, clear skies of Kitt Peak, and learn about the star clusters and nebulas you can find within its haze. We'll even look for the elusive, and often overlooked dark nebulas, seen by their silhouettes rather than their glow.

Information and Reservations


NEW PROGRAM - Milkyway Photography

Learn how to capture the beauty of the Milky Way against the back drop of the Kitt Peak National Observatory! This special program is meant for photographers who would like to capture the summer skies from our great dark skies with the observatories in the foreground.

Information and Reservations


Windows on the Universe Center for Astronomy Outreach

Read about an impressive new astronomy outreach facility being developed within the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It will enable the public to experience the cutting edge research being carried out at Kitt Peak and NSF’s other astronomy facilities around the globe.

Click here to learn more

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Current Openings

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is currently looking for a dynamic fundraising professional to join the team developing our Windows on the Universe project. click here to learn more

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is currently looking for Public Program Specialists to conduct our array of evening programs. If you would like to join our team click here to learn more

To view all of the current openings at AURA click here


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Daytime Programs

We offer you a variety of experiences such as guided tours and exhibits during daytime hours, along with spectacular views of surrounding mountains, desert valleys, and the flora and fauna of a unique sky island ecosystem.

We offer three docent-led tours on most days to three different large research telescopes, live views of the Sun (whenever weather and volunteer staffing permits), and an array of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Plus, the nearly 7,000-foot mountaintop is one of the prettiest spots in southern Arizona providing panoramic views stretching up to 100 miles. Please note that wheelchair accessibility is limited in most of our telescope facilities. Please see details by clicking here.


Nighttime Programs

View objects of the cosmos through Visitor Center telescopes! See planets, nebulae, galaxies, star nurseries, and more. Learn to identify constellations in the sky on the night of your visit.

We have four exciting programs for you. Our Nightly Observing Program, Dark Sky Discovery Program, Night of the Marvelous Moon, and the Overnight Telescope Observing Program are all available utilizing the Visitor Center’s high quality telescopes. The programs vary by topic, learning level, and audience size. A clear night on Kitt Peak is not to be missed or soon forgotten. The nation's observatory was built here for its dark, frequently clear skies and you can share in those views. All of our evening porgrams come with dinner, a fantastic view of the sunset, and a great evening under the night time skies. Please see details by clicking here.



The Great Hercules Cluster is a favorite with our evening guest.

NIGHTLY OBSERVING PROGRAM

Our famous Nightly Observing Program is a great way to spend the evening learning about astronomy and viewing the night sky. Discover the constellations in the sky, how to view hidden objects in the sky with binoculars, and view the deep sky objects with our telescopes. It is a great way to spend the evening with the family. For quick access go to Nightly Observing Program for more information.

DARK SKY DISCOVERY PROGRAM

Participate in our very popular program on nights to spend more time on the telescope to view the objects in the sky! This program is limited to a smaller group to make it more personalized. For quick access go to Dark Sky Discovery Program for more information.

NIGHT OF THE MARVELOUS MOON

Participate in our program on nights when the moon is brightest! For quick access go to Night of the Marvelous Moon for more information.


OVERNIGHT TELESCOPE OBSERVING PROGRAM

The Overnight Telescope Observing Program (OTOP) is designed to provide you with an extended experience viewing and imaging the wonders of the night sky. You and one of our well qualified staff spend most of the night using one of Kitt Peak's three public telescopes and associated equipment, exploring the wonders of the night sky. For quick access go to Overnight Telescope Observing Program for more information.


VIP Tours of Kitt Peak

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is proud to offer a new, not-to-be-missed, all-encompassing tour of Kitt Peak National Observatory! The special group tour is intended for any group with a desire to learn more in-depth knowledge of the historic and scientifically important observatories on Kitt Peak than the regular daytime guided tours offer. This tour will cover the entire summit of Kitt Peak and by reservation only. The program requires extensive walking and most facilities visited are not wheelchair accessible.

More Information and Reservations


Planning Your Visit

Important things to know, including accessibility issues

Learn about accessibility limitations at the observatory. After you have learned about our Tours, Stargazing, Programs, and Exhibits; then please read this section with important information about how to plan your visit, find us, get the most from your time with us, and stay safe and comfortable.

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Tours, Stargazing, Programs, and Exhibits

What we have for you

Whether you wish to visit during the day to catch a guided tour, visit at night to learn the constellations and view through a telescope, or even reserve a telescope all to yourself, we have something for you. Daytime and evening programs, VIP Tours, programs for schools and youth groups, exhibits, and facilities are described here.

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Work, Join or Support

Help us continue

Although many operations of the Observatory are funded by the US Government, the Kitt Peak Visitor Center and its programs are not. This creates an enormous challenge. We rely upon program fees, ticket sales, gift shop sales, and the special generosity of people who believe that sharing astronomy and making the Observatory accessible to the world is important. You can become a Kitt Peak Member, make a tax-deductible gift, or donate needed supplies or equipment. If you wish to work for us, please click the More Info button to learn about our hiring needs.

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Volunteer

Become a docent

If you are service-minded and astronomy-interested, enjoy meeting people, and you would relish the opportunity to work at one of the most scenic spots in southern Arizona then consider joining our Docent Program.

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