TEL1 McMath Pierce solar telescope

The McMath-Pierce solar telescope actually comprises three telescopes in one, so that three independent research projects can be run at the same time. In addition to studying the Sun, the main mirror also can be used for night-time observing of bright stars. Of the three primary heliostat mirrors, one has a diameter of 2.1 meters and two have diameters of 0.9 meters. The heliostat is the moving part of the telescope that follows the Sun through the sky (or stars if it is used for night-time...

TEL19 Mayall 4meter telescope

The Mayall 4-meter telescope, which dominates Kitt Peak's skyline, was completed in 1973 at a cost of 10 million. The huge building, which is almost 200 feet high and contains 30000 square feet of office and laboratory space, can be seen from over 50 miles away (both authors have seen it from Texas Canyon, east of Tucson on I-10, and it is easily visible from Tucson International Airport). At sunrise, the shadow of the dome races across the The Mayall 4-meter telescope from the access road...

Things to do on Kitt Peak

The Visitor Center is a great place to start your visit. Inside are exhibits on astronomy and telescopes, regular showings of astronomy videos, and a gift shop that features Tohono O'odham native crafts including basketry and jewelry, astronomy items, books, posters and Kitt Peak souvenirs. Docent guided tours are offered at the Kitt Peak Visitor Center three times daily, at 10 a.m., 11 30 a.m., and 1 30 p.m. Tours last about an hour, beginning with a brief introductory discussion in the...

Astronomys exciting future

We are entering a new era of very large telescopes there are currently 16 telescopes with diameters of 6.5-m or more under construction or in operation around the world. Moreover, adaptive optics, which is the ability to change the optics of the telescope to correct for the twinkling caused by the Earth's atmosphere, is now providing ground-based images with resolutions better than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. Optical interferometry, which will be feasible with some of the new large...

VIP5 Baboquivari Peak

Razdow Telescope

A massive tower of rock, Baboquivari Peak (7734 feet) dominates the landscape south of Kitt Peak. Baboquivari Peak is composed of red, alkali-rich granite of Late Jurassic age, approximately 145 million years old. Baboquivari Peak, sacred to the Tohono O'odham people, takes its aboriginal name from Waw Kiwulik, meaning narrow around the middle. Some legends say the peak was hour-glass Baboquivari Peak's granite dome dominates the horizon south of Kitt Peak. Like Kitt Peak, Baboquivari Peak is...

TEL18 Bok telescope

Steward Observatory's 90-inch telescope has a very distinctive shape -it resembles a giant can of bug spray. Photo by Gary Rosenbaum, courtesy of Steward Observatory. Steward Observatory, which is the research part of the astronomy department of the University of Arizona, owns two optical telescopes on Kitt Peak (the Bok 90-inch telescope and the Spacewatch 0.9-meter telescope), as well as telescopes on three other mountains near Tucson. The Bok telescope is located at the base of the road...

Types of telescopes and mounts

The oldest type of telescope is a refractor - it was first used by Galileo. It has a lens at the front of a tube to gather light and bend it (refract it) to a focus at the back. The reflector was invented by Sir Isaac Newton it uses a shaped mirror at the back to collect light and focus it. Although all the telescopes on Kitt Peak (with the exception of the HAT-1) are reflectors, there are different kinds of reflecting telescopes. Most often, these are identified by the location of the focal...

Kitt cats

The desert can be a challenging place to live. Animals' ability to move about gives them a distinct advantage over plants, as they can seek out new sources of food, and relocate to more comfortable quarters during times of harsh weather and extreme temperatures. Migration, whether horizontal (such as the flight paths of birds and butterflies) or vertical (going from desert floor to mountain top) is a device that many desert animals employ to make survival easier. Some of the animals that move...

Telescopes and vistasinterest points

VIP-2 Road to the top of Kitt Peak 10 VIP-3 Kitt Peak Visitor Center 10 Southeast Route 14 TEL-1 McMath-Pierce Solar telescope (2-meter) 15 TEL-2 NSO Solar Vacuum telescope (0.7-meter) 18 TEL-3 Razdow telescope (0.1-meter) 20 TEL-4 WHAM telescope (0.6-meter) 22 South Route 23 TEL-5 RCT Consortium telescope (1.3-meter) 24 VIP-6 A Sky Island arboretum 26 TEL-6 KPNO 2.1-meter telescope 27 TEL-7 Coud Feed Tower (0.9-meter) 29 TEL-8 WIYN telescope (0.9-meter) 31 TEL-9 WIYN telescope (3.5-meter) 33...

VIP9 Many many mountains

In every direction from Kitt Peak lie many mountain ranges, with the ones farthest to the south residing in State of Sonora, Mexico. Standing at any telescope on the east side of Kitt Peak, you can see the Coyote Mountains to the east, distinctly rugged, edged by faults. Beyond the Coyote Mountains to the east is Altar Valley and the Sierrita Mountains (northeast of Three Points), another granite-cored range being buried, slowly over time, by its own rocky debris. Beyond the Sierrita Mountains,...

TEL7 Coud Feed Tower

Extending south of the 2.1-meter dome is a large shed that houses a Coud spectrograph. This instrument is capable of dividing the spectra of stars into very fine intervals, and has been used to study the rotation of stars and to find companions. The spectrograph itself was very expensive, but because it was used less than half the time with the 2.1-meter telescope, it was decided in the 1970s The thin cylinder to the right of the 2.1-meter building is the Coud Tower, which houses the 0.9-meter...

TEL3 Razdow telescope

The Razdow telescope dome with the dome of the 2.1-meter telescope in the background. Photo by Patrick Seitzer. There is a small white dome not much larger than a typical garden gazebo just south of the McMath-Pierce telescope. The dome used to contain a 0.1-meter telescope (about 4 inches in diameter), which monitored sky conditions around the Sun. The images were sent to the control rooms of the McMath-Pierce and vacuum telescopes, so that the astronomers working in the enclosed control rooms...

TEL10 Edgar O Smith Observatory

Razdow Telescope

The housing that shelters the telescope slides off on rails. Photo courtesy of Adeline Caulet. The newest general-purpose telescope on the mountain is the 1.2-meter Calypso telescope, which is clearly visible from the road to the summit, but difficult to spot from the top. It is located below the WIYN telescope, and the access road is marked Private. However, any visitor wishing to learn more about the telescope can leave a message for the resident astronomer at the front...