With their vast expanses of desert creating remarkably clear skies overhead, Arizona and New Mexico have long been favored by astronomers seeking the best places for unrestricted stargazing in the U.S. At the same time, the arid landscapes of the Southwest offer some of the most magnificent scenery on the continent – along with a rich cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years.
These elements all come together in a unique TravelQuest experience, as you join a small group of astronomy enthusiasts journeying across desert wilderness, through red-rock canyons and among pine-topped mountains to witness the annular eclipse of the Sun on May 20, 2012.
An Astronomical Odyssey
Our carefully crafted route weaves together behind-the-scenes visits to some of the world’s most fascinating astronomical and aerospace sites, including Kitt Peak National Observatory, historic Lowell Observatory, Arizona’s Meteor Crater, the Very Large Array radio telescope and Sacramento Peak Solar Observatory. You also also have an opportunity to tour the new Spaceport created by tourism pioneer Virgin Galactic. And to ensure our itinerary embraces all perspectives, we even stop at the famous UFO Museum in Roswell!
Along the way, we also take time to appreciate the spectacular scenery here on Earth, from the breathtaking Grand Canyon to the haunting red-rock country around Sedona. We explore a stretch of historic Route 66 and visit Navajo trading posts in settlements that date back many centuries. And of course you have plenty of chances to survey the universe through cloudless night skies, far from the glow of city lights.
An Ancient Eclipse-Viewing Site
The astronomical centerpiece of your journey through the Southwest is the annular solar eclipse on May 20. For our unique viewing site, we’ve chosen a spot amidst the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Long studied by archaeoastronomers, the meticulously aligned markers of this ancient observatory have earned it a fitting nickname: “The Stonehenge of the West.” It’s the perfect place to celebrate both the event unfolding overhead and the legacy of countless generations before us who’ve kept a close watch on these desert skies.
TravelQuest’s Arizona and New Mexico journey is one-of-a-kind astronomical and cultural experience set in a region of incredible natural beauty. We’ve opened up a second program, but each is limited to just 36 travelers – so make your reservations today!