I decided to drive up to Kitt Peak today after work, normally I have my little pink Sony Camera in my hand bag, in case I see something interesting or eventful. So anyways, I have no photos for this review, I hope my writing will be descriptive enough to inspire you, here we go . . .
The world’s largest collection of optical telescopes is located high above the Sonoran Desert under some of the finest night skies in the world. Kitt Peak, on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, is home to twenty-four optical and two radio telescopes representing eight astronomical research institutions. It draws a great many astronomers from all over the world. My friend Tim has always talked about it and tried to tell me about the giant telescopes housed in the giant domes at the peak. These domes house the largest collection of telescopes on one mountain anywhere in the world. If you stay till dusk you can participate in the nightly observing program for a whirlwind tour of the universe beginning with the magnificent sunsets, ending with the view of the galaxies. There are 25 giant telescopes including the massive 4-meter Mayall and the largest solar telescope in the world, it is called the McMath-Pierce. Since it is day time, I was able to join the behind the scenes tour of the scopes guided by one of the observatory docents.
I will plan on returning when my friend Tim is going to work, I was told at night you can get a hands-on introduction to the wonders of space from the lead observing expert here at Kitts Peak. The Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Guided tours are offered three times daily: at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. I joined the 1:30 pm tour, each tour lasts about an hour. Group tours are available by appointment. The three tours a day are divided as follows:
1. 10:00 am. - McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope: The first tour each day is of the world’s largest solar telescope, the McMath-Pierce solar telescope
2. 11:30 am. –. 2.1-m Telescope: Built in 1964, the 2.1-m telescope is still in high demand every night.
3. 1:30 pm. - Mayall 4-m Telescope: This telescope has been a landmark in since 1973, and is easily visible from many points in Tucson. The 4-m is the largest optical telescope on Kitt Peak, and receives 4 times more requests for use than there are clear nights each year. From the Visitor Gallery you have a beautiful 360 degree view of Kitt Peak and surrounding landscape. The tour of the Mayall lasts about 2 hours
June – October: Children pay $3.00 and adults pay $5.75
November – May: Children pay $4.00 and adults pay $7.75
Reservations can be made online for the different time slots, here is the link: http://www.noao.edu/outreach/kpvc/
Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in a comment below
It is a beautiful drive south out of Tucson to Kitt Peak Observatory....absolutely gorgeous panaramic views and amazing info on telescopes and astronomy and the astral heavens. Great docents as well as guded tours,
Kitt Peak National Optical Astronomy Observatories. The world's largest collection of optical telescopes is located high above the Sonoran Desert under some of the finest night skies in the world. Kitt Peak, on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, is home to 22 optical and 2 radio telescopes representing 8 astonomical research institutions. The National Optical Astronomy Observatories, under contract with the National Science Foundation, oversees site operations on Kitt Peak.
Explore the Kitt Peak Visitor Center and learn the history of optical astronomy and the role Kitt Peak has had in shaping astronomical research for the past 38 years. Take a tour and learn how astronomers use telescopes to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Visit the National Solar Observatory exhibit gallery and watch astronomers operate the world's largest solar telescope. Besides, it's an awesome drive and view to the top of the mountain!
For a different experience, visit Kitt Peak at night. The Visitor Center telescope dome is open to the public every evening. Use binoculars and a state-of-the-art 16 -inch telescope to gain an understanding of the evolution of the universe. View planets, the birth and death of stars, nebulae, and galaxies. Reservations are required for the nighttime observing program.