Skip to Content
Home Tours & Programs Daytime Tours

Daytime Tours

No one may visit the observatory after 4:00 pm unless registered for a Nighttime program.

Self-Guided Tours

Self-guided Tour maps are available for purchase in the Visitor Center Gift Shop. Visitors are permitted to walk around observatory grounds during the Visitor Center’s normal hours of operation. Visitors are allowed to enter facilities marked for visitor entrance. Because Kitt Peak is a working research facility, visitors should stay on paved roads and walking areas. Please do not enter any facilities not marked for visitors.

  • These programs are free to members of the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON Tribal IDs will be checked at the arrival).
  • No reservation required. Walk-ins welcome.

Guided Tours

Each tour, led by a docent, visits one of the large, historic telescopes of Kitt Peak. Telescopes are occasionally closed to the public for maintenance. The Visitor Center does its best to alert visitors of any changes to the regularly scheduled tours.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Minimum number of guests:
  • Price:
    • 1 Daytime tour (per person) $19.95
    • 2 Daytime tours (per person, incl. 20% discount) $31.92
    • 3 Daytime tours (per person, incl. 30% discount) $41.90
  • Advance reservation: Advance reservations are welcome, but not required unless the tour is fully booked. Walk-ins welcome.
  • These programs are free to members of the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON Tribal IDs will be checked at the check-in)
Tour Tour start Check in (please arrive by) Program approximate end
McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope 10:00 am 9:45 am 11:00 am
KPNO 2.1-meter Telescope 11:30 am 11:15 am 12:30 pm
Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope 1:30 pm 1:15 pm 2:30 pm

Make a reservation once we offer tours.

VIP Tours

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is proud to offer not-to-be-missed, all-encompassing tours 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. The program requires extensive walking. Most facilities visited are not wheelchair-accessible. Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes, and be able to walk the distances between the telescopes and climb stairs.

Which facilities are visited and in what manner may vary from month to month.

  • Duration: 4–5 hours
  • Price: $49 per person.
  • Advance reservation strongly recommended: we recommend booking at least two months in advance to ensure your best chance to get the date you want.
  • Monthly tours: Every second Saturday of the month 10 am–3 pm. Free to members of the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON Tribal IDs will be checked at the check-in).
  • Age limit: Minimum age for VIP tours is 15 years of age
  • Strollers: Strollers or carry-on infants are not permitted.
  • Max. number of Participants: Tours are limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served, pre-registration basis.
  • Lunch: Lunch is not provided so plan to bring a bagged lunch.
  • Private groups: $49 per person, $490 minimum fee per group

The VIP tour offers participants a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at one of the world’s premier astronomical research facilities. Founded in 1958, Kitt Peak continues to be on the forefront of astronomical research and discovery. From the technologically groundbreaking McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, the historic dark-matter discovering KPNO 2.1-meter Telescope, and the giant Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope, VIP guests will experience Kitt Peak as few ever do. We will visit as many facilities as are available to us on the day of your tour but cannot guarantee any particular telescope or facility.

Make a reservation once we offer tours.

Public Solar Observing

Looking at the Sun is dangerous without the proper filters to reduce its brightness. The Visitor Center has an array of telescopes specially designed for observing the Sun.

Our visible light filter reduces the brightness of the Sun by 99.99%, leaving the image of the Sun just bright enough to see sunspots.

Our second solar telescope views the solar atmosphere by only allowing a very narrow range of red light called Hydrogen-Alpha through. As a result we see prominences, filaments, and more. These views reveal the Sun to be dynamic, intricately detailed, and ever changing.

Free solar viewing occurs when weather and docent staffing permit. You can find the solar observing telescopes in SOLARIO, a small observatory adjacent to the Visitor Center patio.