Kitt Peak Visitor Center Docent Program

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.


Please consider our docent program opportunities

The next training class for new Kitt Peak Docents will be posted when the next class is scheduled.

Docent Duties

Docents are vital to the success of Kitt Peak's public outreach efforts. They serve as the public face of the Observatory to daytime visitors. As such, always projecting a positive attitude and welcoming disposition is essential. Docents lead public daytime tours of telescopes. They interpret the science of astronomy and related fields for visitors, serving as a bridge between our guests and the professional scientific community.

They also assist guests in the Visitor Center, helping them interact with the exhibits to insure an engaging and educational visit. Hands-on demonstrations are conducted by the docents to illustrate concepts in astronomy.

Other docent duties include hosting school groups at Kitt Peak, conducting or assisting with special events and programs, developing astronomy-related demonstrations, and assisting with exhibit designs.

Docent Benefits

Kitt Peak docents enjoy numerous benefits:

  • Monthly meetings at our administrative headquarters building near the University of Arizona campus featuring speakers from the scientific community.
  • Free transportation to and from Kitt Peak in NOAO shuttle vehicles. Fully certified docents will be issued GSA drivers' licenses so they may drive company vehicles.
  • Uniform vests and hats are available at cost, issued at the successful completion of training.
  • Free lunch in the mountain cafeteria while on duty.
  • 15% discount on all items in the gift shop except Tohono O'odham crafts.
  • Membership in the Kitt Peak Docent Forum, a group site for scheduling shifts and exchanging ideas and other information.
  • Your first time in our Nightly Observing Program is free for you and one guest.
  • Opportunity for selected docents to become involved in presenting our nighttime programs, special telescope projects, exhibit development, and major improvements.

Docent Requirements

We are accepting applications from year-round southern Arizona residents and winter visitors.

After successfully completing the training course, docents should be willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for Kitt Peak astronomy with visitors to the Mountain.

Docents need the ability to interact with diverse members of the general public in a positive and professional manner at all times, serving as the public face of the Kitt Peak National Observatory and NOAO.

Docents must also be able to get along with and work with other docents as well as paid observatory staff in the same positive and professional manner.

Docents will need the physical ability to walk at least 1/2 mile while at the top of a 7,000-foot mountain and spend long stretches of time on their feet during their volunteer shifts.

Docent Responsibilities

Upon completion of training, Docents must commit to volunteering for at least 3 work shifts on Kitt Peak per month for the following two years.

Each shift is six hours long, from 10:00am to 4:00pm (if taking a Kitt Peak shuttle to and from the mountain, docents will depart NOAO Headquarters on Cherry Avenue at 8:30am and return by 5:20pm).

For the most part docents may schedule their own days on the mountain. However, they must also be flexible and willing to support outreach efforts and cover for other docents as the occasions require.

Docents will be trained in relevant NOAO policies and procedures, and are expected to adhere to these policies at all times.

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