Arizona Stargazing Guide: Observatories Open To The Public

Published: Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 9:00am
Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017 - 12:20pm
(Photo courtesy of Lowell Observatory)
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Observatories all over the state offer visitors a chance to gaze deep into space and learn about Arizona's contributions to astronomy and planetary science.

From star parties to interactive exhibits, there's a lot to explore at Arizona observatories.

Here's a guide to facilities open to public tours and events.

Did we miss any observatories? Let us know at

A. Apache-Sitgreaves Observatory
Overgaard, Arizona 85933

Apache-Sitgreaves Observatory is a private facility about 60 miles east of Payson that offers viewing programs by reservation only. Groups of up to six can reserve the 36-inch computerized telescope for a four-hour session.
Details:, 480-221-9738.

B. Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory
670 Mount Hopkins Road
Amado, Arizona 85645

The Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory site in southwern Arizona includes the MMT Observatory, an installation of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, as well as six other telescope projects. The visitor center conducts daytime tours Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from mid-March through November, by reservation. The facility also ocassionally hosts star parties, lectures and telescope viewing.
Details:, 520-879-4407.

C. Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory
2757 E. Guadalupe Road
Gilbert, Arizona 85234

The Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory on the Gilbert Riparian Preserve is open Friday and Saturday evenings until 9:30 p.m. On the second Friday of each month, the facility hosts a public star party, which includes telescopes from East Valley Astronomy Club members.

D. Kitt Peak National Observatory
Tucson, Arizona

Kitt Peak National Observatory, home of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, is located on Tohono O'odham Nation land in south central Arizona. The site offers an array of public tours and stargazing programs, including private facilities for night observing and astrophotography.
Details:, 520-318-8000.

E. Lowell Observatory
1400 W. Mars Hill Road
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff offers tours, multimedia shows and interactive exhibits daily. Programs include solar viewing, guided tours and evening telescope viewing.
Details:, 928-774-3358.

F. Mount Graham International Observatory
1651 W. Discovery Park Blvd.
Safford, Arizona 85546

Mount Graham International Observatory is an astrophysical research site that is home to the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope and the Large Binocular Telescope. Discovery Park campus at Eastern Arizona College is the starting point for the 40-mile trip to the three observatories. Advanced reservations are required for the tour, which runs May through October.
Details:, 928-428-6260.

G. Mount Lemmon SkyCenter
9800 E. Ski Run Road
Mount Lemmon, Arizona 85619

University of Arizona's Mount Lemmon SkyCenter plays host to public and private viewing events, as well as workshops and educational programs. The facility northeast of Tucson is home to "Arizona’s largest dedicated public viewing telescope," according to UA.
Details:, 520-626-8122

H. Patterson Observatory
1140 N. Colombo
Sierra Vista, Arizona 85635

The University South Foundation's Patterson Observatory in Sierra Vista is operated by the Huachuca Astronomy Club. Public events are held once a month.
Details:, 520-458-8278, ext. 2129.

I. Spencer’s Observatory
2720 S. Kinney Road
Tucson, Arizona 85735

Spencer’s Observatory near Tucson Mountain Park is privately owned. The facility hosts star tours and parties for groups by reservation.
Details:, 520-578-6085.

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