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 the tours are limited to 15 visitors per tour.
  • We recommend visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but this is not required. 
  • We request visitors to wear masks indoors during the visit.
  • 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 to 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.
  • 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.
  • Cerro Tololo cannot provide transportation to visitors.
  • Drone flights are not allowed during public visits.
  • Closed-toed shoes are required inside of summit facilities.
  • All visitors will need their own vehicle in good condition for the entire visit.

During the reservation process we will ask you whether you comply with our Safety, Liability and Code of Conduct Rules. Please consult them here in advance: 

When to Visit ?


Day and tour capacities

Times and meeting points

Cerro Tololo, Chile

Every Thursday and Saturday

4–15 visitors per tour

Thursday 9:00 am (not available for now)

Saturday 9:00 am 

Saturday 1:00 pm

Meeting point: AURA Observatory 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 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, Mobility Pass or another form of vaccination pass, you will receive a briefing, and then continue 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 La Serena.

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.
  • You need to fill a Reservation Form for each visitor.
  • 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