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Besides sun, Tucson has plenty of stars

Posted on November 8, 2013

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter

It’s not news that Tucson has the sun. In addition to a solar energy industry, the city also hosts the country’s only solar-powered bookstore, pizza parlor and, yes, organic ice cream truck.

But did you know that we’re also big on stars? Amateur astronomers regularly visit, to make pilgrimages to observatories around the city and surrounding area. The University of Arizona is a key participant in Mars exploration, most recently via the Curiosity mission of 2012. We even have a bar in town that boasts high-level telescopes on the roof.

Astronomy is big year round. But this month, the Arizona Science & Astronomy Expo is bringing personalities, including pop science writer Timothy Ferriss, to Tucson – just around the time of the annual Leonid meteor shower.

The University of Arizona runs various facilities including Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium and the Mirror Lab, located under the bleachers of the school’s beloved football stadium. On the northeast end of the city, the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter produces stunning astrophotography atop a glorious winding drive. To the southwest, Kitt Peak National Observatory hosts the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes and offers several tours.

Why Tucson, though? The mountains that ring the city are perfect perches for stargazing. Our low humidity means plenty of clear, cloudless nights. Since the 1970s, dark sky laws have legally limited the wattage of evening lights, which not only burn lots of energy, but can fatally disorient migrating birds.

But the dark skies are important to humans, too. They are a soothing rest from our fluorescent-lit everyday, where we’re glued to various screens 24/7. We at the resort consider desert skies to be an important part of Tucson’s beauty, which is why we have a high-powered Celestron 2000 telescope for guests to use. (Perfect after happy hour at the Lookout Bar & Grille, for example.)

Gazing up at the night sky can make us feel philosophical, but it can also simply take us back to being a kid, filled with a sense of wonder at the world. We can’t promise time travel here at Westward Look Wyndham Grand, but we are definitely a great home base!