Kitt Peak National Observatory
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Kitt Peak National Observatory

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 pageRelated 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 noted as a large and diverse gathering 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]

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]

  • 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.[8][9]

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

History

Sign at Kitt Peak National Observatory

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 publich 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 planet Pluto.[14]

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


Photos

The Mayall Telescope

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 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 2019.
  4. ^ "Astronomy development on another sacred mountain: Kitt Peak". Retrieved 2009.
  5. ^ The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope will become the largest upon completion.
  6. ^ "The Spacewatch Project". Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "Kitt Peak Visitor Center Tours, Stargazing, Programs, and Exhibits". Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ Kevin Grazioli. "Seeing Stars in Indiana". Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ Seeing Stars In Indiana (Adobe Flash Player). 2011. Retrieved 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 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Science, Elizabeth Howell 2014-08-21T02:46:09Z; Astronomy. "Kitt Peak National Observatory: Discoveries & Programs". Space.com. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ "NSF Funds New Center for Astronomy Outreach at Kitt Peak". www.spaceref.com. Retrieved 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 2019.
  16. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2014.

Further reading

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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