Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gazing at the Stars

Kitt Peak National Observatory has the largest and most diverse array of optical and radio telescopes in the world and it's located right here in Arizona.  Just 55 miles (88K) south of Tucson and sitting atop a 6,880 foot (2,096 m) mountain it is in a perfect location to avoid the lights of cities and take advantage of clear skies.

I haven't been here for a very long time and it is on my list of places to visit again soon.  These photos were taken years ago  and have been scanned from prints.  The observatory has grown since my last visit.  It now has 24 optical telescopes and 2 radio telescopes.  The radio telescopes were not there when I last visited.

One very impressive telescope is the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope, the largest solar telescope in the world.  It was dedicated in November of 1962.  It is used primarily to study sun spots and sun spot spectra.

Kitt Peak is open to visitors with tours available during day time visits.  There are even live views of the sun (conditions permitting).  Visitors may also take self-guided tours around the facility.  There are even night visits available for small groups of people where visitors can have actual telescope observations.

The observatory was founded in 1958 when the property was leased from the Tohono O'odham Nation, a Native American nation located in southern Arizona.  It is administered by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.


William Kendall said...

Fascinating- I'd love to visit for myself.

Dark skies can be so elusive in this day and age; some of the best conditions I've had for night viewing in recent years were at my parents' former home, where on cold nights the whole sweeping view of the Milky Way could be seen.

Catalyst said...

I always wanted to go there but don't know if it's safe for me now since I have a Pacemaker. I know I'm no longer to have MRI's because of the magnetism and I suspect some of those machines up there involve lots of magnets.

Linda said...

Beautiful photos and fascinating post.