No, the Vatican Observatory is not an educational institution.

The Vatican Observatory Research Group is affiliated with the University of Arizona, and our staff in Tucson have taught classes in the Department of Astronomy. We have also served on doctoral committees for graduate students. And on occasion, our astronomers may spend a sabbatical semester or year teaching at universities around the world.

In addition to our regular staff, the Vatican Observatory also supports a group of Adjunct Scholars, who teach at universities from Chile to Canada, and across Europe.

Every two years (odd-numbered years; the next will be 2023) the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo hosts a team of world-class researchers and twenty five students who engage in four weeks of intensive study about some timely aspect of astrophysics.

For more information, see Summer School

No. The summer schools are open to advanced students in astronomy or astrophysics, either finishing their undergraduate studies or beginning graduate work; there is no requirement other than demonstrated academic excellence and an expressed interest in pursuing a career in astronomy. Once a summer school topic is announced (i.e. in September of even-numbered years), interested students should see the Register section of Summer School.

While the Vatican Observatory does not presently have organized programs for younger students, our international staff members and other representatives of the Observatory regularly speak to high school classes (live or online) around the world.

Some high school classes have collaborated with our astronomers to choose a deep-sky object that we will image at the VATT and then provide the individual color-filter images back to the class, for them to process into a stunning astrophotograph.

In addition, we also participate with the Arrupe Virtual Learning Institute (AVLI) by teaching an on-line high school astronomy course for Catholic schools who participate in the AVLI.

Yes! Every two years (even-numbered years) we offer a week in January of intensive immersion in astronomy: the Astronomy for Catholic Ministries and Educators (ACME). Held at the Redemptorist Renewal Center north of Tucson, Arizona, the twenty five selected participants will engage in workshops and lectures in the morning, visit astronomical institutions in the afternoons, and spend the evenings exploring the dark Arizona skies. We discuss topics ranging from cutting-edge astronomy to the challenges, and techniques, of exploring faith and science issues in the context of Catholic schools and parishes. Applications open the September before the program date; check this web site in September 2023, for more information.

Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus is the the official visitor’s center for the telescopes on Mount Graham. They conduct weekend tours of the Mount Graham International Observatory. Weather permitting, the tours begin in mid-May and go through October. Because permits are required to enter the endangered red squirrel refugium, advance reservations are required.

The tour features a trip up scenic Mount Graham, focusing on the mountain’s rich geology, history, and diversity of life; a lunch near the summit of the mountain; and a guided tour of the observatories — The Submillimeter Telescope, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, and the Large Binocular Telescope!

Due to the extreme altitude, anyone with the following conditions is ABSOLUTELY DISQUALIFIED and will not be allowed to participate:

Any diagnosed Medical Condition

  • Chronic Respiratory Disorders
  • Altitude Sickness (the facilities are at an extremely high altitude (10,500 ft).
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Abnormal Heart Rhythm – Arrhythmia
  • Pregnancy

ANY need for assistive devices to walk

The observatories are not handicapped accessible – you must be able to climb two or three flights of stairs and walk at least 1/4 mile and stand in place for extended periods of time at high altitudes. Participants must be able to easily get in and out of the van several times.

  • The observatories require us to wear close-toed walking shoes for safety.
  • The temperature is approximately 30 degrees cooler, therefore a light jacket is recommended.
  • If you tend to get car sick, the road will definitely make you car sick!
  • There is NO SMOKING & NO ALCOHOL allowed.
  • No pets are allowed!
  • The minimum age for participants is 12 years old.

Contact Information for the Mount Graham Tours

Eastern Arizona College
Discovery Park Campus

1651 W. Discovery Park Boulevard
Safford, AZ 85546

Phone: (928) 428-6260
Web Site: