Friday, September 2, 2016


We started our road trip around the Southwest on 14 August by driving to Tucson, AZ where we met up with our friends, Pat and Janeane. The temperature that day reached about 110˚F. We joined forces in our motel room and caught up on news as we enjoyed some wine and snacks before heading off to dinner. Dinner was at Bianchi's, a nearby Italian restaurant, and was very good. While at dinner we made plans for the next day which was to be a trip to Kitt Peak, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Kitt Peak Observatory consists of about 25 telescopes run by various university consortiums. There are various sizes and many projects. 

The large disc in the foreground is the size of the mirror in the 2.1-Meter Telescope. 

The painting on it depicts the culture of the Tohono O'odham Nation as well as objects one sees in the night sky: stars, planets, and meteors.

We spent most of the day there taking the three guided tours of the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope:

The McMath-Pierce is the largest solar telescope in the world. Primarily involved in spectroscopic studies of the Sun, this telescope can see farther into the infrared than any other solar telescope. Part of it extends underground. 

The 2.1-Meter Telescope: This was the first large telescope located on the Mountain. In Seeing first light in 1964, the 2.1-meter (84 inch) telescope was the largest on Kitt Peak for almost a decade. It had an unusually short focal length and a mirror made of a brand-new material called "Pyrex". 

We enjoyed a picnic lunch of a delicious salad and other nibbles on the mountain before taking the 3rd tour to the Mayall 4-Meter Telescope, the largest scope on the mountain. 

For over 40 years the Mayall has been involved in cutting-edge astronomical research, most notably in understanding the size and large-scale structure of the visible universe.

We saw it actually being moved, and were able to enjoy a
360˚ view of the area as we walked along the viewing corridor.

The drive to and from Kitt Peak went smoothly as we were driving in the opposite direction of the commute. The mountain is located on the Tohono O'odham Nation land. The Tohono O'odham Nation is the local native American Tribe in the area. They consider the mountain sacred and so they are a definite factor in the fact that there is very little light pollution due to their large reservation. The work with the Observatory to maintain the low lighting in 
the area.

Back in Tucson we found a very good Mexican restaurant, Theresa's Mosaic. We all enjoyed the dinner and the view out the windows as we were above the city a bit and could watch as the evening thunderstorms moved through.

No comments:

Post a Comment