Take a spectacular intergalactic journey as you view the ultra-clear Arizona sky with hands-on telescope viewing and take behind-the-scenes tours of world-renowned centers for astronomy research.

Starting at: $2,895 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 MMT Observatory, Mount Hopkins.   Credit: Howard Lester  A gibbous moon overlooks one of Smithsonian's telescope domes, opening to prepare for night observation.  Credit: David Aguilar  A 10-meter-diameter telescope, which searches for flashes of light created when gamma rays hit Earth's atmosphere. Credit: David Aguilar  Sky watching through one of many telescopes at Smithsonian's Whipple Observatory. Credit: David Aguilar  The Observatory's giant gamma-ray telescope. Credit: David Aguilar  The observatories of Arizona's Kitt Peak. Credit: Susan Degginger/Alamy

Astronomy in Arizona

Featuring Smithsonian’s Whipple Observatory

5 days from $2,895

Take a spectacular intergalactic journey as you view the ultra-clear Arizona sky with hands-on telescope viewing and take behind-the-scenes tours of world-renowned centers for astronomy research.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The excitement of learning in-depth astronomy made me feel like a kid - I was not the only participant who made this exclamation. 

- June V.

Been to China, Antarctica, Italy, Hawaii, Arizona - all with extremely competent, friendly, and helpful leaders - I'll be back! 

- Doublas C.

Get set for a mind-expanding look into the universe with Astronomy in Arizona!

- John H.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Overview

Touring observatories will require participants to travel to mountain ridges. If you have any concerns about your health or traveling to higher altitude, please contact your physician prior to registering for this program.

Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory: 8,500 ft. elevation

Smithsonian’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory is located approximately 8,500 feet above sea level. There is a narrow roadway leading up the mountain from the Visitors Center, so it is necessary to leave our motor coach at the Visitors Center and ride in smaller vehicles to reach the summit. The ride from the Visitors Center to the ridge is about 30-40 minutes each way.

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter: 9,157 feet

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter is located in the mountains north and east of Tucson at an elevation of 9, 157 feet. We will travel by private motor coach and the journey will be entirely on paved roads.

The excitement of learning in-depth astronomy made me feel like a kid - I was not the only participant who made this exclamation. 

- June V.

Been to China, Antarctica, Italy, Hawaii, Arizona - all with extremely competent, friendly, and helpful leaders - I'll be back! 

- Doublas C.

Get set for a mind-expanding look into the universe with Astronomy in Arizona!

- John H.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Tucson

Individual arrivals at the Arizona Inn in Tucson. Join fellow travelers and Smithsonian Journeys Expert David Aguilar for a welcome reception, opening remarks, and dinner. (R,D)

Day 2 — University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab

Spend a day at  the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab*. This large-scale scientific production facility is using innovative engineering and optical technology that melds with manufacturing techniques to produce the largest and most advanced giant (8.4 meters / 27 ft) telescope mirrors in the world. The Mirror Lab is currently working on a Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), as well as a 6.5 meter mirror and more. This afternoon, enjoy lunch in downtown Tuscon and return to the hotel to relax before a presentation by David Aguilar. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner after the lecture. (L,D)

*Our 2016 departure will visit Kitt Peak National Observatory on this day. 

Day 3 — Smithsonian's Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory

Gather for a presentation by David Aguilar. This afternoon, depart for lunch in Tubac, an eclectic artist haven. Continue on to the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory and board smaller vehicles for a drive up to Mt. Hopkins. Gather at Observatory Ridge to view several reflector telescopes including the 1.2- and 1.5-meter telescopes and the 10-meter-diameter optical reflector used for gamma ray studies. Then visit the 6.5-meter Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT). Explore the MMT housing, a four-story structure of offices, workshops, and computer labs that rotate with the instrument during the nightly observations. Afterwards, join astronomers for a catered dinner. Descend Mt. Hopkins and view the skies through smaller telescopes at the Visitors Center. (L,D)

 

Day 4 — Mt. Lemmon Sky Center

Enjoy your morning at leisure, then join Smithsonian Journeys expert David Aguilar for a discussion followed by a festive lunch at the hotel. This afternoon, depart for the picturesque mountains north and east of Tucson. Late in the day arrive at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, part of the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory. After a light meal there will be an opening presentation, then as the sky darkens, look in to the night skies of Southern Arizona. You’ll have the opportunity to view through the center’s new 32” Shulman telescope at planets, galaxies, and nebulae. Through inter-active demonstrations you’ll learn how to photograph stars and planets, use sky charts to view the night sky and more! (L,D)

Day 5 — Depart

Individual departures from hotel.