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Kitt Peak National Observatory

The Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) is a United States astronomical observatory located on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O'odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona. With 22 optical and two radio telescopes, it is the largest, most diverse gathering of astronomical instruments in the northern hemisphere.[1] The observatory is administered by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).

Kitt Peak National Observatory
KittPeak.jpg
Overview of some of the telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory
Alternative namesKPNO Edit this at Wikidata
OrganizationNational Optical Astronomy Observatory Edit this on Wikidata
Observatory code 695 Edit this on Wikidata
LocationKitt Peak, Arizona, US
Coordinates31°57′30″N 111°35′48″W / 31.9583°N 111.5967°W / 31.9583; -111.5967Coordinates: 31°57′30″N 111°35′48″W / 31.9583°N 111.5967°W / 31.9583; -111.5967
Altitude2,096 m (6,877 ft) Edit this at Wikidata
Observing time260 nights per year Edit this on Wikidata
Websitewww.noao.edu/kpno/ Edit this at Wikidata
Telescopes
KPNO Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope4.0 m Ritchey-Chrétien reflector
WIYN Telescope3.5 m Ritchey-Chrétien reflector
McMath-Pierce Solar TelescopeUnobstructed solar reflector
KPNO 2.1 m TelescopeFourth largest on the mountain
Coudé Feed TowerCoudé spectrograph
Coronado ArrayThree solar instruments used for public education
RCT Consortium TelescopeRobotically controlled
WIYN 0.9 m TelescopeGalactic studies
Calypso ObservatoryAcquired by LSST Project
CWRU Burrell SchmidtGalactic studies
SARA ObservatoryVariable stars, undergraduate training
Visitor Center telescopesThree instruments used for nightly public programs
Spacewatch 1.8 m Telescope72 in mirror scavenged from the Mount Hopkins MMT
Spacewatch 0.9 m TelescopeSpacewatch
Super-LOTISDesigned to look for visible signatures of GRBs
Auxiliary solar telescopesTwo 0.9 m instruments
Bok TelescopeVersatile
MDM Observatory 1.3 m McGraw-Hill TelescopeOriginally at Ann Arbor
MDM Observatory 2.4 m Hiltner TelescopeGalactic surveys
ARO 12m Radio TelescopeOne of two telescopes operated by the Arizona Radio Observatory, part of Steward Observatory
VLBAOne of ten radio-telescopes forming the VLBA
DIMM all-sky cameramonitors seeing
Kitt Peak National Observatory is located in the United States
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Location of Kitt Peak National Observatory
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons
Sign at Kitt Peak National Observatory
View of M1 from the 4-meter telescope, recorded on chemical film (1973)

General informationEdit

Kitt Peak was selected by its first director, Aden B. Meinel, in 1958 as the site for a national observatory under contract with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was administered by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. The land was leased from the Tohono O'odham under a perpetual agreement. The second director (1960 to 1971) was Nicholas U. Mayall. In 1982 NOAO was formed to consolidate the management of three optical observatories — Kitt Peak; the National Solar Observatory facilities at Kitt Peak and Sacramento Peak, New Mexico; and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The observatory sites are under lease from the Tohono O'odham Nation at the amount of a quarter dollar per acre yearly, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Council in the 1950s. In 2005, the Tohono O'odham Nation brought suit against the National Science Foundation to stop further construction of gamma ray detectors in the Gardens of the Sacred Tohono O'odham Spirit I'itoi, which are just below the summit.[2]

The largest optical instruments at KPNO are the Mayall 4 meter telescope and the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope; there are also several two- and one-meter class telescopes. The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope is currently[3] the largest solar telescope in the world and the largest unobstructed reflector (it doesn't have a secondary mirror in the path of incoming light). The ARO 12m Radio Telescope is also at the location.

Kitt Peak is famous for hosting the first telescope (an old 91 cm reflector) used to search for near-Earth asteroids, and calculating the probability of an impact with planet Earth.[4]

Kitt Peak hosts an array of programs for the public to take part in, including:[5]

  • Daytime tours, speaking about the history of the observatory as well as touring a major research telescope.
  • The Nightly Observing Program (NOP), which allows visitors to arrive in the late afternoon, watch the sunset, and use binoculars and telescopes to view the cosmos.
  • Additionally, there is the Overnight Telescope Observing Program (OTOP). This program allows for a one-on-one, full night of observing using any of the visitor center's telescopes. Guests may choose to do DSLR imaging, CCD imaging, or simply take in the sights with their eye to the telescope.

Kitt Peak's Southeastern Association for Research and Astronomy (SARA) Telescope was featured in the WIPB-PBS documentary, "Seeing Stars in Indiana". The project followed SARA astronomers from Ball State University to the observatory and featured time-lapse images from various points around Kitt Peak.[6][7]

A major project in the 2010s at Kitt Peak is the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument instrument for the Mayall.

DiscoveriesEdit

Some examples of the discoveries using KNPO telescopes. This is a very small listing, with many thousands of asteroids discovered by the Spacewatch telescopes.

In 1976 the Mayall Telescope was used to discover methane ice on planet Pluto.[8]

The 90 cm Spacewatch telescope was used to discover the Kuiper belt body, 2000 Varuna in the year 2000.[9] This was discovered by an astronomer noticing the slow moving object in a blink comparison.[9]


PhotosEdit

ClimateEdit

Due to its high elevation, the observatory experiences a much cooler and wetter climate throughout the year than most of the Sonoran desert.

Climate data for Kitt Peak, Arizona (Elevation 6,790ft)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
(22)
75
(24)
78
(26)
88
(31)
90
(32)
98
(37)
98
(37)
94
(34)
91
(33)
89
(32)
87
(31)
72
(22)
98
(37)
Average high °F (°C) 49.6
(9.8)
50.8
(10.4)
54.3
(12.4)
61.7
(16.5)
70.4
(21.3)
79.5
(26.4)
80.4
(26.9)
78.0
(25.6)
74.9
(23.8)
66.9
(19.4)
56.8
(13.8)
50.0
(10.0)
64.4
(18.0)
Average low °F (°C) 33.0
(0.6)
33.6
(0.9)
35.8
(2.1)
41.3
(5.2)
49.2
(9.6)
58.5
(14.7)
60.8
(16.0)
59.8
(15.4)
57.0
(13.9)
48.6
(9.2)
39.5
(4.2)
33.7
(0.9)
45.9
(7.7)
Record low °F (°C) −3
(−19)
−2
(−19)
9
(−13)
15
(−9)
24
(−4)
33
(1)
40
(4)
42
(6)
35
(2)
20
(−7)
12
(−11)
6
(−14)
−3
(−19)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.77
(45)
1.60
(41)
1.80
(46)
0.55
(14)
0.44
(11)
0.45
(11)
4.38
(111)
4.53
(115)
2.36
(60)
1.50
(38)
1.14
(29)
2.65
(67)
23.16
(588)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 3.0
(7.6)
4.3
(11)
4.1
(10)
1.2
(3.0)
0.1
(0.25)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.76)
1.2
(3.0)
3.8
(9.7)
18.1
(46)
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). "Kitt Peak National Observatory". Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  2. ^ "Astronomy development on another sacred mountain: Kitt Peak". Retrieved February 16, 2009.
  3. ^ The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope will become the largest upon completion.
  4. ^ "The Spacewatch Project". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  5. ^ "Kitt Peak Visitor Center Tours, Stargazing, Programs, and Exhibits". Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  6. ^ Kevin Grazioli. "Seeing Stars in Indiana". Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  7. ^ Seeing Stars In Indiana (Adobe Flash Player). 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  8. ^ Leverington, David (May 29, 2003). Babylon to Voyager and Beyond: A History of Planetary Astronomy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521808408.
  9. ^ a b "Spacewatch Discovery of Minor Planet 2000 WR106 | SPACEWATCH®". spacewatch.lpl.arizona.edu. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  10. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved December 6, 2014.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit