Southern Arizona Astronomy Tour

Custom Designed Itinerary

Private Transport Included

Full-time Tour Guide

Our journey under Arizona’s darkest skies is designed to bring you an in-depth and hands-on educational experience of some of the most exciting landmarks in astronomy throughout the ages, from ancient times to the frontier of modern observational technology. Ranging from age-old questions concerning the origin of the universe to our search for planets around other stars, let us guide you on a journey under Arizona’s darkest skies.

Why Choose This Program

Learn about the first astronomers of Arizona, the ancient Hohokam peoples

Join a local star party in Sabino Canyon

Explore the ecology research, sustainable technology, and prototype Moon/Mars habitat at Biosphere 2

Take behind the scenes tours of world-class facilities including the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, Kitt Peak National Observatory, and the Large Binocular Telescope

Experience the beauty of Arizona’s famous dark skies

This tour is accessible to everyone with an interest in astronomy and a curiosity to learn more about our world and universe. From novices to aficionados, young or old, all are welcome!

Trip Details

Tour Duration

6 days


Availability

All our tours are individually customized to your interests. While we loved guiding this private tour, it is purely an example of what can be possible and we will tailor your day to day program to your interests. If you would like to go on this tour, or a similar trip, please get in touch.


Group Size

Min 14 | Max 38 people


How You’ll Travel

Private bus transportation and driver between sites.

  • Professional General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy ($10,000,000)
  • Private bus transportation and driver for long drives between San Jose and San Vito and Ujarras
  • Accommodations in shared facilities or homestays on site (6 nights total) – San Jose Casa del Parque (2 nights), San Vito (2 nights), Ujarras (3 nights)
  • Custom designed itinerary
  • Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary
  • Demonstrations from LEAF International teaching artists and students
  • Site visits to LEAF International programs
  • Opportunities for free time on the beach (Dominical) and city exploration (San Jose)
  • Full time local interpreter and cultural guide (Member of Proyecto Jirondai)
  • Breakfast and dinner each day (lunches are on own)
  • All taxes
  • Complete tour participant accounting including an option to pay by credit card
  • “Cancel for Any Reason Insurance” (CFAR) – Cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a 75% refund minus the insurance premiums. This applies to all travelers (except New York residents) and is included in the trip price

Number/Type of Staff

Full time Professional Discovery Expeditions tour escort and astrophysicist and night sky expert.

  • Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
  • Customs and immigration fees at airports or border crossings
  • Airport transfer to first night hotel (we will try to collect flight information from each traveler in an effort to help you share taxis with similar arrival times
  • Various meals or drinks listed as “on own” in the itinerary when the group is dispersed for self-exploration
  • Additional nights lodging or any additional days if one chooses to remain in country longer

Detailed Itinerary

Please note that this is simply a sample itinerary to give you an idea of what we've done before and what we could create for you.

Day One: Arrive in Phoenix

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Meet us in Phoenix and take our complimentary hotel airport shuttle to your hotel of choice. The lively capital of Arizona is famed for its year-round sun, botanical gardens and endless hiking trails! Spend the afternoon settling into your hotel, or explore this fascinating city and its stunning surroundings.

Day Two: Phoenix to Tucson

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This morning we’ll meet the group over breakfast before we tour Pueblo Grande’s archaeological site and museum to learn about the first astronomers of Central Arizona, the ancient Hohokam peoples. Understand how astronomy influenced the ancients’ daily lives, and connect the questions they asked to present-day explorations of the universe. After lunch, travel to Tucson to explore Biosphere 2, a center for ecology research, sustainable technology, and a prototype for potential future colonies on the Moon and Mars. Dinner tonight in Tucson will offer a taste of local cuisine and culture.

Day Three: Enjoy an After-Sunset Star Party

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Hidden under the University of Arizona football stadium is the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, which produces the largest and most advanced giant telescope mirrors in the world. After an expert-led tour this morning, walk across campus to Flandrau Planetarium and take a guided tour of the night sky as seen under the 60-foot dome. After sunset we’ll join a local amateur astronomers for a star party in Sabino Canyon.

Day Four: Kitt Peak National Observatory

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Today we’ll travel to Kitt Peak and spend the day at our national observatory, home to one of the largest collections of research telescopes in the world, including two radio telescopes, the world’s largest solar telescope, and the flagship instrument Mayall 4-meter telescope. You will get an in-depth VIP daytime guided tour of the entire summit, have a light dinner on the mountain while watching the sunset, and experience an evening observation program on one of Kitt Peak’s telescopes.

Day Five: Mt Graham International Observatory

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Visit the cutting edge of 21st century astronomy and the largest, most powerful telescope in the world: the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt Graham. Park vehicles will transport us along the windy ride to the top of the scenic 10,500 ft mountain. After lunch, we’ll proceed to the observatories to tour the control rooms, the living quarters, the research data rooms, and much more of all three observatories: the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the Arizona Radio Observatory, and one of the most powerful telescopes in existence, the Large Binocular Telescope. If there are any astronomers awake and available, we will be able to speak to them and ask them questions about their research.

Day Six: Final Day!

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Unfortunately, today is the last day of our trip. Enjoy a scenic drive back to Phoenix and an afternoon or evening flight home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's Included?

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  • Professional General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy ($10,000,000)
  • Private bus transportation and driver between sites
  • Accommodations in shared facilities on site (5 nights total) – Phoenix (1 night), Tucson (2 nights), Willcox (1 night), Globe (1 night)
  • Custom designed itinerary
  • Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary
  • Full time Professional Discovery Expeditions tour escort and astrophysicist and night sky expert
  • Most meals: breakfast days 2-6, lunch days 4-5, dinner days 2-4
  • All taxes
  • All gratuities (tour leaders and driver included)
  • Complete tour participant accounting including option to pay by credit card
  • Comprehensive Accident, Medical, Liability, and Travel Protection/Cancellation/Interruption Insurance for the Land portion of the trip
  • Optional Cancel For Any Reason Insurance – cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive 75% refund
What's Not Included?

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  • Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
  • Airport transfer to first night hotel (complimentary airport shuttle available from hotel upon request)
  • Meals day 1 when traveling to Phoenix; lunch days 2-3 & 6; dinners days 5 & 6
  • Final night lodging in Phoenix (if necessary) or any additional days one chooses to remain in the area
Who Can Travel?

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Please note that most of the observatories are not wheelchair accessible. To fully participate in this program, you must be able to climb two or three flights of stairs, stand in place for extended periods, and walk at least ¼ mile. Additionally, on Day 5, due to the extremely high altitudes at Mt Graham, it is strongly recommended that those with the following diagnosed medical conditions not participate: chronic respiratory disorders, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), abnormal heart rhythm – arrhythmia, pregnancy.

What Should I Bring?

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Refillable water bottle, good walking shoes. Money for meals not included.

Good to Know Before You Go

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• A full time local interpreter and cultural guide will accompany this trip.
• Remember to bring some cash/credit cards for lunches and additional food/drinks.
• Dietary requirements can be catered for – just let us know when booking.
• This itinerary is entirely flexible and customizable. Simply get in touch with a member of our staff to craft your ideal trip.