2019 Arizona Skies: Scenic Days & Starry Nights Overview
|Friday||May 3||Add-on Tucson Pre-Night|
|Day 1||Saturday||May 4||Arrive Tucson, Arizona|
|Day 2||Sunday||May 5||Old Tucson - Kitt Peak National Observatory|
|Day 3||Monday||May 6||Steward Mirror Lab & Western BBQ and Sky Show|
|Day 4||Tuesday||May 7||Pima Air & Space Museum - Dark AZ Stargazing|
|Day 5||Wednesday||May 8||Phoenix/Scottsdale & Jeff Hester|
|Day 6||Thursday||May 9||Meteorites – Sedona Red Rocks - Flagstaff|
|Day 7||Friday||May 10||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Day 8||Saturday||May 11||Meteor Crater – Lowell Observatory|
|Day 9||Sunday||May 12||Onward Travels|
Level 2 – Easy/Moderate – short to medium walks over uneven hilly terrain under easygoing to rugged travel conditions, with varying elevations up to 2285 m (7500 ft).
We at TQ want to be sure you find the trip that’s right for the trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness.
Arrive Tucson, Arizona
Your astronomical tour of the Southwest begins in Tucson, where our TravelQuest representative greets you at the international airport (code: TUS) and arranges the quick transfer to our home for the next four nights: a hacienda-style resort and spa on the edge of the Sonoran Desert. In the evening, join your fellow travelers and astronomer Michael Bakich for a welcome dinner.
Overnight: Westward Look Wyndham, Tucson (4 nights)
Old Tucson - Kitt Peak National Observatory
In the evening we visit Kitt Peak National Observatory for a special dinner, followed by a private tour and stargazing. Founded in 1958, the observatory has three major telescopes and provides facilities for another 22 optical and two radio telescopes. A leading global site for nighttime optical and infrared astronomy, as well as daytime study of the Sun, Kitt Peak shares its mountaintop setting with the National Solar Observatory.
Steward Mirror Lab & Western BBQ and Sky Show
In the afternoon, enjoy swimming, sunning and spa time at our relaxing resort hotel. Then join us for a barbecue dinner at a local ranch, capped by a stargazing demonstration with trip astronomer Michael Bakich.
Pima Air & Space Museum - Dark AZ Stargazing
After dinner on your own, join our friends from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association – founded in 1954 – for great stargazing in the Arizona night sky.
Phoenix/Scottsdale & Jeff Hester
After a tour of Phoenix showcasing the Arizona State Capitol and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel – designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – we explore Old Town Scottsdale, whose highlights include the historic Post Office, the Little Red Schoolhouse and the private Pullman railroad car designed for polar explorer Roald Amundsen. After the formal tour, enjoy exploring this vibrant old neighborhood on your own.
In the evening, join us for dinner and a special talk by renowned astronomer Jeff Hester. After earning his doctorate in Space Physics and Astronomy from Rice University, Jeff headed west to the California Institute of Technology – Caltech – where he joined the team responsible for the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera. In his remarkable career, Jeff had had a front-row seat for some of the most extraordinary events in the history of science. His iconic Hubble image, “The Pillars of Creation,” has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and in 2012 was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential photographs in history.
Overnight: Courtyard by Marriott Scottsdale
Meteorites – Sedona Red Rocks - Flagstaff
Next, we venture into the red-rock country around Sedona. As we journey through the Valley of the Sun, the Sonoran Desert landscape is dotted with an incredible variety of cacti, while ahead you begin to see the amazing rock formations as they reveal various shades of pink, crimson, orange and umber with each turn in the road. After a stop in historic Sedona, we carry on through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff – on a route ranked by many travelers as one of the most scenic drives in America. Enjoy the evening at leisure.
Overnight: Little America, Flagstaff (3 nights)
Grand Canyon National Park
Meteor Crater – Lowell Observatory
Barringer Meteor Crater, about 40 miles east of Flagstaff, is named for mining engineer and entrepreneur Daniel Moreau Barringer, who was the first to identify its probable origins in 1903. Recognizing the crater’s scientific importance and educational value, Barringer took measures to protect it. Today his descendants (who still own the property) maintain the site as closely as possible to its natural state, making it available for scientific research while ensuring appropriate access by the general public. We tour the crater rim and explore the Interactive Discovery Center, where you can learn more about the crater’s history and the fascinating science around meteorite strikes.
In the evening, we visit Lowell Observatory, founded in 1894 by astronomer Percival Lowell for his pioneering studies of Mars. Named one of “The World’s 100 Most Important Places” by Time magazine, the observatory has been at the center of many landmark astronomical events, including the discovery of Pluto, the mapping of the Moon for the Apollo program and the first corroboration of the expanding nature of the universe. Enjoy a special farewell dinner before spending some time observing the skies firsthand through the historic Clark refractor.
Add-on Tucson Pre-Night
Nightly cost: US$215 per person based on 2 people sharing one room. Add US$205 for single occupancy.