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Kitt Peak National Observatory


Kitt Peak National Observatory
Overview of some of the telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory
Alternative namesKPNO
OrganizationNational Optical Astronomy Observatory 
Observatory code 695 
LocationKitt Peak, Arizona, US
Coordinates
Altitude2,096 m (6,877 ft)
Observing time260 nights per year 
Websitewww.noao.edu/kpno/
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
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

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 over twenty optical and two radio telescopes, it is one of the largest gatherings of astronomical instruments in the northern hemisphere.[1]

Kitt Peak National Observatory was founded in 1958.[2] It was home to what was the largest solar telescope in the world, and many large astronomical telescopes of the late 20th century in the United States.[2]

The observatory was administered by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) from the early 1980s until 2019, after which it was overseen by the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory.[3]

Contents

General information


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.[4]

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[5] 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.[6]

Kitt Peak hosts an array of programs for the public to take part in, including:[7]

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.[8][9]

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

History


The Kitt Peak National Observatory of the United States was dedicated on March 16, 1960.[10] At the dedication a 36-inch telescope and various facilities were ready.[10] Construction was underway for the then planned 84 inch telescope.[10] (i.e the KNPO 2.1 meter)

The 84 inch (2.1 m) had its first light in September 1964.[11]

Over the decades the mountaintop hosted many telescopes, and achieved a variety of discoveries.[12] Some examples of astronomical research KNPO contributed to include the study of "Dark Matter", Cosmic distances, high-redshift galaxies, and the bootes void.[12] In addition, the observatory has engaged in variety of public outreach and education programs.[12]

In 2018, KNPO established plans for its Windows on the universe Center for Astronomy Outreach.[13]

Discoveries


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 Pluto.[14]

The 90 cm Spacewatch telescope was used to discover the Kuiper belt body, 20000 Varuna in the year 2000.[15] This was discovered by an astronomer noticing the slow moving object in a blink comparison.[15]

Photos


Climate


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[16]

See also


References


  1. ^ National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). "Kitt Peak National Observatory" . Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Lang, Kenneth R. (January 15, 2007). A Companion to Astronomy and Astrophysics: Chronology and Glossary with Data Tables . Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9780387333670.
  3. ^ CleryOct. 31, Daniel; 2019; Pm, 3:30 (October 31, 2019). "U.S. telescopes get a new overseer" . Science | AAAS. Retrieved November 18, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Astronomy development on another sacred mountain: Kitt Peak" . Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
  5. ^ The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope will become the largest upon completion.
  6. ^ "The Spacewatch Project" . Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "Kitt Peak Visitor Center Tours, Stargazing, Programs, and Exhibits" . Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Kevin Grazioli. "Seeing Stars in Indiana" . Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  9. ^ Seeing Stars In Indiana (Adobe Flash Player). 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "General Notes". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 72: 146. 1960. doi:10.1086/127502 .
  11. ^ "2.1-Meter Telescope" . www.noao.edu. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Science, Elizabeth Howell 2014-08-21T02:46:09Z; Astronomy. "Kitt Peak National Observatory: Discoveries & Programs" . Space.com. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  13. ^ "NSF Funds New Center for Astronomy Outreach at Kitt Peak" . www.spaceref.com. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  14. ^ Leverington, David (May 29, 2003). Babylon to Voyager and Beyond: A History of Planetary Astronomy . Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521808408.
  15. ^ a b "Spacewatch Discovery of Minor Planet 2000 WR106 | SPACEWATCH®" . spacewatch.lpl.arizona.edu. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  16. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information" . Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved December 6, 2014.

Further reading


External links









Categories: Kitt Peak National Observatory | Astronomical observatories in Arizona | Buildings and structures in Pima County, Arizona | Minor-planet discovering observatories | Museums in Pima County, Arizona | National Science Foundation | Science museums in Arizona | Sonoran Desert | Tohono O'odham Nation | University of Arizona | Tourist attractions in Pima County, Arizona




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