Astronomy PhotoTucson is one of the leading astronomy research centers in the world.  The city is ringed by mountain ranges and has the advantage of dark, clear nights.  We have a large number of observatories which are used for public education and academic and private research.  One of the most popular public observatories is the Mt Lemmon Sky Center.  Located atop the Catalina Mountains, it is 9,000 ft above sea level.  It’s SkyNights program is a popular after-dark program that is offered nightly throughout the year.  View constellations, observe atmospheric phenomena, and the wonders of the cosmos from a high-quality astronomical site using an outstanding new 32-inch Schulman Telescope…Arizona’s largest dedicated public viewing telescope! For more information on this program and to purchase tickets, please visit the Sky Center website.  It is strongly advised that tickets be purchased as far in advance as possible as this popular program fills up quickly.

The world’s largest collection of optical telescopes is located high above the Sonoran Desert under some of the finest night skies in the world.  Kitt Peak, on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, is home to twenty-four optical and two radio telescopes representing eight astronomical research institutions. The Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s day.  Guided tours are offered daily at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. and group tours are available by appointment.  You can stargaze at Kitt Peak with its Nightly Observing Programs or spend the night at a telescope with its Advanced Observing Program.  For more information, please visit their website.

Mt Graham Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus – Governor Aker Observatory – conducts weekend tours of the Mount Graham International Observatory.  Weather permitting, the tours begin in mid-May and go through mid-November.  Advance reservations are required.  The tour features a trip up scenic Mount Graham, focusing on the mountain’s rich geology, history, and diversity of life; a lunch near the summit of the mountain; and a guided tour of the observatory facility.  And, yes, Billy the Kid also walked the mountain paths back in the 1870s… Back at Governor Aker Observatory, the 20″ Tinsley Cassegrain reflector is open to the public for viewing the heavens after sunset.  For more information, please visit their website.