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.

Public tours to the Mt. Graham International Observatory (MGIO), including the VATT, are conducted by Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park in Safford, Arizona. They will resume in the spring/summer of 2023 . This is the best way for anyone interested to see our telescope.

Here is the information we have received from Discovery Park:


Observatory visits are usually on Saturdays (and some Fridays), starting in June through the end of October, except holidays.

Mt. Graham International Observatory tours start at Arizona College’s Discovery Park at 9:00 am. You will arrive back here at the campus at approximately 5:00 pm, so it’s an all-day adventure!

We try to make your visit as pleasant as possible, but there are a few things you need to consider first: 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

An Important Consideration: We are very sorry, but our 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.

Please carefully consider if you have any condition that may hinder your visit of the telescopes at the Mt. Graham International Observatory. Standard protocol at MGIO for any individual who experiences a medical concern and requires any medical interventions – including the use of Medical Gas (supplemental oxygen) – is immediate transport to the nearest Emergency Medical Center (Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center in Safford, Arizona) without delay. Therefore, we will require you to sign a “Waiver of Liability” on the morning of your tour.

COST: $75.00* per person (non-refundable except for weather or fire) (*Seniors and people ages 12-17 $60 per person). With new regulations in place post-pandemic, the maximum number of participants is 10 people per tour.

WHAT WILL YOU SEE: There are only daytime tours (no night time skygazing). We will show you the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the Arizona Radio Observatory, and the Large Binocular Telescope (which is currently the largest, most powerful telescope in the world)!

ALL TOURS ARE SUBJECT TO CANCELATION DUE TO WEATHER OR FIRES! (REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES)

Tour Contact: Monica Clarine, Secretary, Discovery Park
928-428-6260 – Monica.clarine@eac.edu