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Kitt Peak

Feb 22, 2017 Tuesday – Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona, USA

2017 Southern Arizona & Astronomy

We leave this morning around 10AM for the Kitt Peak National Observatory. We are driving from Dragoon Mountain Ranch to the observatories – a 2-hour trip each way through Tucson.

It takes about 30-45 minutes to drive SW to Kitt Peak from Tucson on the West Tucson Ajo Highway, and then up the access road. We pass the Border Patrol security check point on the way to Kitt Peak, and on the way back everyone is stopped for a dog inspection of the vehicle, and a personal ID check. When traveling in this region so close to the Mexican border, be prepared for security check points by carrying your ID with you. Non-US citizens should carry their passports.

We take the 4 metre Mayall optical telescope 2-hour tour at 1:30PM, which involves climbing the hill to the high point-of-land. It is exciting to hear from our guide that this venerable optical telescope has found new life and a new funding source, which will allow it to contribute to finding answers about dark energy in the Universe. The facility closes at 4PM, so we don’t have time to explore further. We head back down the mountain road, and east through Tucson, the way we came this morning.

We stop in Benson on the way back to stock up on a few food and drink items. Some of our group stayed home today, so they are ready with dinner upon our arrival. Everyone enjoys the meal and we are eager to get outside to do more observing. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t ideal this evening with cloud cover dampening our enthusiasm, so we have to entertain ourselves playing a new board game for many of us: Mexican Trains (a domino game).

Kitt Peak
29 photos
Lots of cactus on the hillside
Lots of cactus on the hillside
First glimpse of Kitt Peak with the observatories on the  ridgeline
First glimpse of Kitt Peak with the observatories on the ridgeline
Diane and Matt at a pull-out part way up the mountain
Diane and Matt at a pull-out part way up the mountain
A panorama of the plains to the north of Kitt Peak
A panorama of the plains to the north of Kitt Peak
Most of the observatories on the ridgeline
Most of the observatories on the ridgeline
The Mayall, Stewart, UofA Spacewatch and Warner & Swasey observatories on the north ridgeline
The Mayall, Stewart, UofA Spacewatch and Warner & Swasey observatories on the north ridgeline
Our tour group with the Steward 2.3 metre observatory behind
Our tour group with the Steward 2.3 metre observatory behind
Inside view of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Inside view of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Yoke of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Yoke of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Matt, Diane & Reg in the observation deck of the Mayall dome
Matt, Diane & Reg in the observation deck of the Mayall dome
Fisheye view looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Fisheye view looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Looking SW at the ARO 12m Radio Telescope - Event Horizon Telescope
Looking SW at the ARO 12m Radio Telescope – Event Horizon Telescope
Looking up at the Mayall 4m observatory
Looking up at the Mayall 4m observatory
The 2.3m Steward observatory and the 4m Mayall observatory
The 2.3m Steward observatory and the 4m Mayall observatory
Joe on Kitt Peak with the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope behind
Joe on Kitt Peak with the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope behind
The 0.6m Warner Swasey, the 1.8m Spacewatch,, the 2.3m Steward, and the 4m Mayall observatories
The 0.6m Warner Swasey, the 1.8m Spacewatch,, the 2.3m Steward, and the 4m Mayall observatories
The plains look like seawater
The plains look like seawater
Energy graph showing triple consumption while climbing Kitt Peak and 25 miles of gained range while descending the Kitt Peak road
Energy graph showing triple consumption while climbing Kitt Peak and 25 miles of gained range while descending the Kitt Peak road
Tesla Model S screen showing the route and energy use for Kitt Peak
Tesla Model S screen showing the route and energy use for Kitt Peak
Joe atop Kitt Peak at the Visitor Center plaza
Joe atop Kitt Peak at the Visitor Center plaza
McMath - Pierce former solar telescope
McMath – Pierce former solar telescope
Tesla Model S in the parking lot with some snow
Tesla Model S in the parking lot with some snow
Mexican Jay - one of a pair
Mexican Jay – one of a pair
Mayall and Steward telescopes
Mayall and Steward telescopes
Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT telescopes in the distance with the 0.9m telescope above the rocks
Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT telescopes in the distance with the 0.9m telescope above the rocks
A sparse tour group for the morning tour of the 2.1 meter telescope
A sparse tour group for the morning tour of the 2.1 meter telescope
Inside the dome of the 2.1m telescope
Inside the dome of the 2.1m telescope
Looking north along the ridge line to Kitt Peak summit
Looking north along the ridge line to Kitt Peak summit

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