Department of Astronomy and the Steward Observatory

Outreach Programs


Astronomy camper watches sunset from summit of Mt. Lemmon
Astronomy camper watches sunset from summit of Mt. Lemmon

Astronomy is perhaps unique among the sciences in that it so dramatically captures our imagination, excites our curiosity, inspires our sense of wonder and awe... all reflected in the simple beauty of the night sky.

Sharing this wonder is the foundation for public outreach programs at Steward Observatory. Just as scientific endeavors depend critically upon public support via institutes like NASA and the National Science Foundation, the Tucson astronomical community returns to the public both scientific progress and unique educational experiences. These public outreach programs are described below:

Steward Observatory Public Evening Series
Astronomy Camp
Project Astro
Center for Astronomy Education
SAMEC logoUA Science and Mathematics Education Center
Frequently Asked Questions About Astronomy
Mount Lemmon Sky Center


lecture podium

Steward Observatory Public Evening Series

Steward Observatory faculty give popular public series talks in the main lecture hall every other Monday at 7:30 PM. Topics range from archeoastronomy to the exploration of our Solar System to cosmology and the fate of the Universe.

Go to the Public Evening Series web page


Project ASTRO logo

Project ASTRO

"At a time when study after study shows that there is a serious crisis in science education in the schools, all of us who love astronomy must make more of an effort to help share the excitement of science with future generations. Project ASTRO seeks to enhance science and astronomy education by fostering ongoing partnerships between teachers and astronomers, astronomy clubs, universities, observatories, and planetaria."

Go to the Tucson-area Project ASTRO web page


Tucson and various nearby mountaintops in Southern Arizona are especially active in astronomy and have many related attractions. They are listed below and include references to talks that occur during the academic year. Each of the websites listed should have the information needed to schedule tours - including contact numbers.

  • Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter is a new public program initiative by the University of Arizona to make the world of astronomy and other sciences more accessible to Southern Arizona and its visitors by moving science off campus and into the community. The SkyCenter is a unique place, with unique tools, for creating matchless opportunities for education. Currently, the SkyCenter invites the public to participate in SkyNights, an evening observing program to view the heavens from our 24" telescope or DiscoveryDays, an educational adventure for science enthusiasts; who will learn directly from the experts about their exciting discoveries and expertise with hands-on-programs high atop Mt. Lemmon.

  • Mt. Hopkins - Fred Whipple Observatory - Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory Visitors Center features displays and exhibits on astronomy and astrophysics, natural science, and cultural history. It is 56 kilometers (35 miles) south of Tucson and just within the boundary of the Coronado National Forest at the base of Mt. Hopkins in the Santa Rita Mountains. Mount Hopkins is located off Interstate-19 north of Tubac, but south of Green Valley.
  • Mt. Graham International Observatory - The Mount Graham International Observatory, operated by Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona consists of three telescopes: the 1.8-meter Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), the 10-meter Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter (Radio) Telescope, and the 8.4-m x 2 Large Binocular Telescope, the world's most powerful telescope. Public tours are conducted by reservations, beginning about mid May through early November, weather permitting. For information and reservations, please contact Discovery Park in Safford, about two-hours drive east of Tucson, and features a 40-mile trip to the site near the summit of scenic Mt. Graham.
  • Laboratories and Exhibits on the University of Arizona Campus -
    • The lobby area of the Sonett building on the northwest corner of the N. Cherry Avenue and the UA mall there is an exhibit of several Mars Missions supported by NASA. space missions in which the UA is currently involved.
    • The Lunar and Planetary Lab (just east of the Flandrau Science Center) has an area on the fourth floor with posters and displays describing various space missions.
    • The Phoenix Mars Mission, operated by the Lunar and Planetary Lab, has an exhibit area as well. It is located at 1415 N. 6th Avenue, just northwest of the UA campus.
    • The Flandrau Planetarium offers astronomy-related exhibits for children of all ages.