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“Cloudy Night Review”

Kitt Peak National Observatory
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Sells
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Located 56 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, the observatory is a working research station situated high above on Kitt Peak.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed 13 September 2015 via mobile

So unfortunately it was a cloudy night and we weren't able to use the telescopes or binoculars. So here's what we got to do: walk up to a high point and watch the sunset. This was beautiful and we were able to capture some great photos. Then we went back to the visitor center and the group split in half. Half stayed there and the guide remotely accessed his telescope in Colorado and showed us how he takes pictures of nebulas and galaxies. The other half walked up to one of the telescopes and was able to get a behind the scene tour and talk to the people who run the telescope. Normally people don't get to go in there. So that was pretty cool to see. Then the groups switched so you did get to do both. We want to go back when it is not cloudy so we can actually use the telescopes ourselves. The guide said the best time to go is in April or May where there is little chance of rain. Also, go a few days before or after a new moon. That is when he said would be the best viewing. For dinner, they gave you a turkey sandwich on a croissant, a bag of potato chips, a granola bar, a cookie, and a bottle of water.

3  Thank Amy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 August 2015

The Kitt Peak National Observatory is a great trip if science is your thing. The Observatory is a bit of a drive from Tucson, but worth the trip.
We took the guided tour during the week and had a personal docent.
She explained how the different telescopes work (there are a bunch on the mountain top). She took my grandson through several of the exhibits in the museum that demonstrate the astronomical techniques and how the telescopes are built.
We visited one of the large telescopes to see how it operates. This was during the day, so there was no actual observation in progress.
There are night time tours as well that allow visitors to experience actual observation.
Should you visit during the winter months, dress warmly. The altitude and wind make for a very cold trip.

2  Thank Dick B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 August 2015

My family and I visited Kitt Peak and attended the four hour Nightly Observing Progrma and experienced a fantastic evening under the stars. We learned about the observatory, the how-tos of star viewing, and actually got to peer through several different, huge telescopes. We were amazed to be viewing galaxies that were 200,000 years old. This is such a spectacular experience, Kitt Peak is located on a sacred mountain on the Tohono O'odham Nation's tribal lands. The drive up the peak is gorgeous. We got to see the sun set over this amazing land. The wilderness with all its critters, abound. When night falls, the observatory maintains a very dark environment. Coming down the mountain, in a caravan of cars without lights headlights on, in the pitch black, is a crazy wonderful experience.

2  Thank drdmromeo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 July 2015

The Nightly Observing Program is AMAZING and made me fall in love with astronomy. This program does require reservations which you can make online. Since this program is extremely weather dependent (you can't see stars if its raining), make sure you provide them with a valid phone number as they call to confirm/cancel the afternoon of your reservation. To reiterate what others have said, it is chilly so make sure you dressed in layers. Even though Tucson was over 100F on my summer day, the nightime temp on top of Kitt Peak was in the 60s. Also, there is a Border Patrol checkpoint. Kitt Peak sits on a Native American reservation that borders Mexico, so you may be checked as you return to Tucson.

Our program started around 6pm. The guides gave us a light dinner (sandwich and chips) before being taken to watch the sunset. At sunset, both Venus and Jupiter were visible! After the sun went down, we observed the night sky with the naked eye, looking at constellations and the Milky Way. Next, we were given binoculars and our wonderful guide Blythe (best guide ever!) pointed out some more interesting features like nebulas and double star formations. This experience convinced me to get my own star map and binoculars, which I have already put to good use! The last portion of the program gave us some great views through their telescope. We even looked at something 38 million light years away, easily the most distant thing I will ever witness in my lifetime. The most exciting object we viewed was Saturn! You can easily see the beautiful rings on their scope. All in all, the evening took us until around 11pm before we headed back down the mountain. If you want a sampling of the objects you might see, check out kittpeak.wordpress.com where they provide summaries of every nightly program.

I would ABSOLUTELY recommend this program if you're near Tucson. The night sky is incredibly clear, and you will never get this experience anywhere else!

6  Thank MichelleL9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 8 July 2015

We visited the observatory on a full moon night - and it really was spectacular. No matter what time of year you go, be sure to take a sweater or light jacket - and even though some people say you should not take your own car - driving down after dark is really not a problem - and paying for transportation from Tuscon to Kitt Peak is really, really expensive!!!

2  Thank Rita23890
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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