noao0510 — Organization Release

Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center Offers New Public Membership Program

4 November 2005

A growing slate of public programs and related outreach activities has spurred the Visitor Center at Kitt Peak National Observatory to offer its first-ever membership program for the general public.

Now entering its fifth decade of operations, the Kitt Peak Visitor Center has been the hub for more than two million people eager to experience the largest and most diverse collection of research telescopes in any one place in the world. Two of the 25 active telescopes on Kitt Peak are dedicated solely to public viewing, via the world-renowned Kitt Peak Nightly Observing Program, with a third public telescope scheduled to open in early 2006.

Visitor Center staff also offer a variety of specialized programs that range from “how to buy your first telescope,” to observing meteor showers, to how to take your own digital images of star clusters, nebulae and galaxies that rival those done by professionals.

The mission of the visitor center is to inspire a sense of wonder and awe about the Universe, through its exhibits, tours and public programs. “Our goal is to inform and educate the public daily about basic astronomy, its current research themes, and the nature of the scientific process,” says Richard Fedele, manager of public outreach for Kitt Peak’s parent organization, the Tucson-based National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

We also try to show how Kitt Peak, NOAO and the National Science Foundation have played major roles in U.S, astronomical research since Kitt Peak was founded in 1958,” Fedele says. “We hope that a large, diverse group of members will help us spread this message and allow us to develop even more exciting and far-reaching programs.

Beyond the routine access to the observatory offered to the public 362 days per year, Kitt Peak membership offers a variety of unique members-only benefits, including star parties, new behind-the-scenes tours, and first notice of special events, along with discounts in the gift shop, the Nightly Observing program, and classes and workshops.

Other benefits of an annual membership include:

  • Free admission to telescope tours (which request a $2.00 fee for adult non-members)
  • Members-only rates on classes and special programs
  • A quarterly newsletter
  • A membership packet with a specially designed Kitt Peak Member logo sticker
  • Free general admission to more than 275 science centers participating in the Association of Science-Technology Centers Passport Program.

Basic individual membership costs $35.00 (which includes a membership card and two guest passes for the daily tours.) Dual membership for two people $45.00 (including two membership cards and two guest passes), while a family membership costs $55.00 (including membership cards and four guest passes.)

All funds raised through the membership program are reinvested in expanding and improving Kitt Peak public outreach activities.

More information

Kitt Peak National Observatory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. (AURA), under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. It is located 55 miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona, in the Quinlan Mountains on the Tohono O’Odham Nation.

For more information about the Kitt Peak Visitor Center and its membership program, see the Web site, or call the Visitor Center directly at 520-318-8726.


Douglas Isbell
Office of Public Affairs and Educational Outreach National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Tel: 520/318-8230

Richard Fedele
Office of Public Affairs and Educational Outreach National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Tel: 520/318-8163

About the Release

Release No.:noao0510
Legacy ID:NOAO 05-10