Public Visits to Cerro Tololo telescopes, Chile

Public Visits to Cerro Tololo telescopes, Chile

NOIRLab is pleased to receive public and educational visits at no cost to its site, and makes every effort to accommodate the public interested in learning about astronomical research/engineering activities. A minimum of 24 hours notice is necessary for scheduled public visit requests.

  • At Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory the tours are limited to 42 visitors per tour.
  • The minimum number of confirmed visitors for a scheduled tour is four people. If the minimum number of people has not been met, (or the number has fallen below the minimum due to guests canceling) the day before the scheduled visit, it will be canceled.
  • Visits may also be canceled because of operational problems, bad weather, natural disaster, accidents, or any other case of force majeure.
  • Cerro Tololo is located at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level, so we do not recommend visiting if you have hypertension, cardiovascular or lung problems.
  • Minors under 6 years old are not permitted.
  • Pets are not allowed.
  • No gasoline, food, or beverages are available for sale at the observatories. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages.
  • Drone flights are not allowed during public visits.
  • Closed shoes are required in the observatory facilities.
  • All visitors will do the tour on a bus that will be available at the Observatory Access Gate (Km 50 Route 41 to the Elqui Valley).

During the reservation process we will ask you whether you comply with our Safety and Liability rules. Please consult them here in advance:


When to Visit ?


Day and tour capacities

Times and meeting points

Cerro Tololo, Chile

Every Saturday

4–42 visitors per tour

Saturday 9:00 am
Saturday 1:00 pm

Meeting point: Observatory Access Gate, Route 41/D-317, Km 50, La Serena, Chile

What will you see on the Tour?

Visitors with reservations will gather at the Observatory Access Gate located on Route 41, km 50, at 9 am, or 1 pm according to the time of the reserved tour, on the day of the visit. After checking in with your ID, you will receive a safety and general information briefing, and get in the bus to start the trip to the Cerro Tololo telescopes. Arriving at around 10:30 am to the facility, visitors will be guided around the telescopes plató, starting with a visit to the SMARTS 1.5-meter Telescope to experience a traditional telescope operation, followed by a visit to the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope’s Observing Room to learn how astronomers perform astronomical observations, continuing to the telescope main platform gallery, with a view of the 4-meter primary and 1.3 -meter secondary mirrors and the instrument in place to be used by the observing scientist. The visit will finish at the Visitor Center room. Around 12:00 pm visitors will start to return to the Observatory Access Gate in the bus.

Check out our Facility's Virtual Tour to give you a glimpse of your future visit !

How to book a Public visit?

  • Select a Tour below and complete the Reservation Form at least 24 hours in advance of your desired date.
  • The sites you are visiting are active worksites so please accept the Safety, Liability and Code of Conduct rules and recommendations provided in the Form.
  • Once you have submitted the form, you will receive an automated email informing you that we have received your booking; if you do not receive this notification please check your spam folder and if still not found send an email to us.
  • Please note that every effort will be made to follow through with your planned visit; however, certain circumstances may prevent us from being able to conduct the visit as planned. It is advisable to have a plan B, in case the visit is canceled. This can occur if the site become inaccessible due to weather, earthquake, or if there is an unplanned engineering event etc. If we need to cancel the visit we will let you know by e-mail as soon as we become aware of the potential issue. 

Travel information to visit Cerro Tololo, Chile, can be found here