Arizona, and especially Santa Cruz County, is a dream come true for professional astronomers and regular stargazers alike. From the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on Mount Hopkins to the backyards in areas around Rio Rico and Sonoita, visitors to Nogales and Santa Cruz County will be astounded by the clarity of the skies and the breathless views of the heavens.
The Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory is located on Mount Hopkins and offers tours and viewing opportunities year-round and features a 6.5-meter MMT, 1.5-meter Tillinghast reflector telescope, 1.2-meter reflector telescope, 1.3-meter PAIRITEL reflector, HAT network of optical refractor telescopes, MEarth, and an array of four 12-meter VERITAS reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy.
The FLWO Visitors Center is lcoated at the base of Mt Hopkins near Amado in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Center features displays and exhibits on astronomy and astrophysics, natural science, and cultural history. A trailhead, restrooms, and picnic area with benches, grills, and a hardened path are located just outside the main gate.
The Observatory conducts guided tours for the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from mid-March through November. Reservations are required and may be made in advance by calling or writing to the Visitor Center at 520-879-4407. Tours are on a first-come first-served basis up to a maximum of 30 visitors. Tickets are purchased on the day of the tour.