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Nighttime Programs

Kitt Peak is first and foremost a research facility. To avoid interfering with research during nighttime programs, the Visitor Center adheres to strict lighting control procedures.

Please read our Plan Your Visit page to learn more about the climate up here at the summit!

Headlights Are Not Allowed on Kitt Peak After Dark: Your vehicle’s headlights will be covered. When you leave after any evening program, you will be guided by an observatory vehicle for one mile down the mountain road. After that first mile, staff will remove the headlight covers for you.

Guests may not leave the programs early except in cases of genuine emergency. By making a reservation in any of our nighttime programs, you indicate your understanding of and willingness to abide by these procedures.

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

  1. Always carry a flashlight (LED lights are issued to participants)
  2. Always carry a KPNO-issued radio (OTOP only)
  3. Be cautious and respectful of wildlife; do not feed, pursue, or approach wildlife
  4. Stay with your guide and group
  5. No rock climbing or bouldering
  6. Stay out of recently burned areas
  7. If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness (dizziness, severe headache, etc) let your guide know immediately
  8. Be aware that high winds can make doors (on both cars and buildings) dangerous

Discounts (20%) are available for seniors age 62 and older, groups of 8 persons or larger, active duty military with ID, ASTC members and students with ID.

The Visitor Center has 4 magnificent telescopes which are used for the Nighttime Programs:

Overnight Telescope Observing Program

This custom program gives you the full observatory experience and makes you a visiting astronomer at Kitt Peak using one of the four Visitor Center telescopes. Visual observing and imaging of amazing deep-sky objects are both possible. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be an astronomer, this program is for you.

When you arrive at the Visitor Center, you will meet your telescope operator who will assist you in getting settled into your dorm room. After enjoying dinner, and a telescope becomes available, the night is yours for as long as you can last. Visual observing and imaging of incredible deep-sky objects are both possible. You may compile your own observing list or let the telescope operator make one for you. This program is often given as a very special gift to interested loved ones for special occasions and offers the guest a full visiting-astronomer experience. No prior experience in astronomy is necessary to participate in and enjoy this amazing program.

If you wish to observe or image specific objects in the night sky please check in advance by email. Parts of the sky will not be above the horizon on a given night and some objects are too faint to see.

  • Duration: from 3 pm to noon (latest) the next day. Departure before 9 am is not allowed. Please get a good rest after the session before driving down.
    Please do not plan your arrival and departure from Tucson too tightly.
  • Prices (we are limited to two dorm rooms maximum):
    • Telescope for night, 1 guest, Single Room, including 3 meals: $945
    • Telescope for night, 2 guests, Double Room, including 3 meals: $1,000
    • Telescope for night, 2 guests, 2 Single Rooms, including 3 meals: $1,040
    • Telescope for night, 3 guests, 1 Double Room, 1 Single Room, including 3 meals: $1,195
    • Telescope for night, 4 guests, 2 Double Rooms, including 3 meals: $1,350
  • Advance reservation strongly recommended: we recommend booking at least two months in advance to ensure your best chance to get the date you want. Reservations made after 1:30 pm on the day of the program will not receive a meal because the kitchen requires a final meal count by that time. The program fee is the same.
  • Age limit: The program is designed for adults and older children. It is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
  • Max. number of Participants: Tours are limited to 4 participants on a first-come, first-served, pre-registration basis.
  • Monsoon season: July and August are usually the least preferable months on Kitt Peak because of the monsoon.

Weather Check before noon

Guests will receive a call at about 10 am on the day of the program to advise them of the weather forecasts and program status. Please be available. If weather might prevent observing, we will offer an alternative program, which includes some of the planned activities plus other engaging hands-on activities and possibly a tour of one of the research telescopes not typically open to the public. In the event of unfavorable weather, guests will be given the option of attending the AAP or rescheduling for another date without charge. The programs will be canceled entirely only if conditions are deemed by the staff to be hazardous.

We do not offer refunds or rain checks for weather conditions other than expected or that change suddenly and limit our use of the telescope or otherwise interfere with any of our nighttime programs. The weather call is based on information available at the time of the call.

Quarter Program start (be at the base of Kitt Peak no later than) Sunset Program approximate end


3:00 pm


Before 12 pm+1


3:00 pm


Before 12 pm+1


3:00 pm


Before 12 pm+1


3:00 pm


Before 12 pm+1

Please read our Plan Your Visit page to learn more about the climate up here at the summit!

Study the weather right now at Kitt Peak:

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