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