Travel far away from the city lights to view these meteor showers under the pristine dark skies of Kitt Peak National Observatory! Festivities begin late and stretch into the wee hours of the morning as we observe some of Nature’s most spectacular cosmic shows. Learn about meteors, comets, meteor showers, and touch an actual piece of an asteroid. Refreshments will be provided.
Adults and families with children 8 years or above are encouraged to attend.
Dates for 2017
Saturday, July 29th
The Delta Aquariids originated from the breakup of the Marsden and Kracht Sungrazing comets. There are two branches of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower, Southern and Northern. The Southern Delta Aquariids are considered a strong shower, with an average meteor observation rate of 15–20 per hour, and a peak zenith hourly rate of 18. The Northern Delta Aquariids are a weaker shower, peaking later in mid August, with an average peak rate of 10 meteors per hour.
Friday, October 20th
The Orionid meteor shower is produced by Halley's Comet (named for astronomer Edmund Halley), which last passed through the inner solar system in 1986 on its 75.3 year orbit. When the comet passes through the inner Solar System and nears the Sun, its ice begins to sublimate, allowing rock particles to break away from the comet. These particles continue on the comet's trajectory and appear as meteors ("falling stars") when they pass through Earth's upper atmosphere. Halley's comet is also responsible for creating the Eta Aquariids, which can be viewed in May.
Thursday, November 16th
The Leonids occur when Earth passes through the stream of material left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. Tempel-Tuttle returns to the inner Solar System every 33.2 years and leaves a fresh trail of meteoroids which fall to the Earth as meteors when Earth passes through them. Every so often, instead of a meteor shower, the Leonids are an outright meteor storm—streaking as frequently as 100 per hour! Sadly, that is not predicted to happen this year, but the Leonids are still sure to give a good show!
Wednesday, December 13th
The Geminids originate from the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be an asteroid belonging to the pallas family of asteroids. This would make the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet. The meteors from this shower usually peak around December 13–14, with the date of highest intensity being the morning of December 14. The shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120–160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions. Geminids were first observed in 1862, much more recently than other showers such as the Perseids and Leonids.
Time: 10 PM - 3 AM
Yes folks… we’re staying up LATE! But return shuttles to the parking area will run at 1:00 AM and 2:00 AM as well.
Location: Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center
Park in the picnic area, 1 mile below the summit. Shuttles will take you to the top of the mountain for the program.
Adult, reservation by phone: $50
Adult, reservation online: $45
Child (ages 8-16), reservation by phone: $30
Child (ages 8-16), reservation online: $25
Tohono O'odham Tribal Members: Free
Terms & Conditions
You may cancel at any time up to 48 hours prior to the program date without any penalty. A $20 per person cancellation fee will be charged for those who cancel less than 48 hours prior to the program date. If we are forced to cancel the program ourselves due to cloudy skies, you will not be charged anything.
On the day of the program we will make a weather call and determine if the program will proceed as scheduled or not. Assuming the weather cooperates, the per-person fee will be charged automatically at this time. You will receive a copy of your receipt at check-in time.
If a last-minute emergency or other situation comes up so that some or all of your group cannot make it, please let us know as soon as possible. It may save you money, and will allow us to fill the empty space with others from our waiting list.
Please register online, or call (520) 318-8726 ($5 price increase for reservations made by phone).
• DRESS WARM! Hats, gloves and layered clothing required!
• Bring sleeping bags or blankets to lie on the ground if you wish. Lawn chairs are permitted.
PLEASE DO NOT:
• Arrive before 9:00 PM
• Drive to the top of the mountain! Parking will be provided at the picnic area and guests will be shuttled to the Visitor Center.
• Bring weapons, alcohol, or pets
• Use cell phones, white lights, or green lasers while on the Mountain
• Smoke anywhere on or near the mountain
Image of Perseid Meteor above the road to Kitt Peak provided by Sean Parker. Used with permission. Copyright Sean Parker Photography, all rights reserved.