Kitt Peak National Observatory

11 03 2017

On Saturday we’re booked on a VIP tour of Kitt Peak.  Normally these tours only operate with a minimum of 4 guests.  In this particular tour we’re with 1 other guest and 3 new tour leaders.  The nearly 5 hour tour includes several of the 25 or so telescopes in the complex.  We see areas that the public normally sees (behind glass windows) as well as more back-stage areas such as the control rooms and out on the floor of the domes.  This mountain top complex is huge, the largest, most diverse collection of space instruments in the world.  Most impressive it the solar observation telescope and the 4 meter Mayall telescope.  Also impressive, but not included in the tour, is the 3.5 meter WIYN telescope and the 12 meter ARO radio telescope.

On Sunday we’re back out to Kitt Peak for their Night Observation Program.  In a larger group of about 60 guests and 3 astronomers we spent time watching the beautiful sunset and the equally impressive moon rise. Then it’s off to the telescopes for viewing of a several celestial objects.  In between telescope and binocular viewing sessions we’re welcomed in the visitor center for hot chocolate and coffee.  While it’s not cold on the mountain, it’s still a least 20 degrees cooler than Tucson, a welcome relief during the 90+ degree days and a little chilly as nighttime temps drop into the 50’s.  Program notes from our binocular viewing.

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