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: $3,295 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

Astronomy in Arizona

Featuring Smithsonian’s Whipple Observatory

5 days from $3,295

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

Arizona Astronomy… a trip for the mind and soul! 

- John H.

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.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Overview

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: Five-day trip featuring late evening sky viewing at two observatories. High elevations range from 8,500 feet at the Whipple Observatory to 9,157 feet at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter. Both excursions to these observatories require taking smaller vehicles to reach the summit after reaching a certain point by motor coach. These high altitudes may be difficult for some guests, especially coming from sea level. At a minimum, many people are affected with shortness of breath, dehydration, and headache and/or nausea.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Arizona Astronomy… a trip for the mind and soul! 

- John H.

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.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Tucson, Arizona

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 — Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Smithsonian's Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory

Depart early in the day for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for a guided tour of this 98-acre facility featuring a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery and natural history museum. Enjoy a catered lunch and also some free time to explore the museum independently. Continue on to Smithsonian’s 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. Afterward, join astronomers for a catered dinner and stargazing through smaller scopes. (L,D)

Day 3 — University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab

Spend the morning 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 Tucson then return to the hotel to relax before a presentation by David Aguilar. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner after the lecture. (L,D)

Day 4 — University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mt. Lemmon Sky Center

Enjoy your morning at leisure, then join your 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 University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mt. Lemmon Sky Center.

After a light meal there will be an opening presentation, then as the sky darkens, look into 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 interactive 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.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)