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ARO 12m Radio Telescope facts for kids

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ARO 12m Radio Telescope
Alternative names ARO12m Edit this at Wikidata
Part of Kitt Peak National Observatory Edit this on Wikidata
Location(s) Arizona
Coordinates 31°57′12″N 111°36′54″W / 31.9533°N 111.615°W / 31.9533; -111.615 Edit this at Wikidata
Altitude 1,914 m (6,280 ft) Edit this at Wikidata
Telescope style radio telescope Edit this on Wikidata
Diameter 12 m (39 ft 4 in) Edit this at Wikidata
Website Edit this at Wikidata
ARO 12m Radio Telescope is located in the United States
ARO 12m Radio Telescope
Location of ARO 12m Radio Telescope

The ARO 12m Radio Telescope (ARO12m or KP12m) is a 12-meter dish located on Kitt Peak, approximately 60 mi (97 km) from Tucson in Arizona at an elevation of 6,215.8 ft (1,894.6 m).


The original dish was built in 1967 under the umbrella of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). At that time, it was 36 feet (11 meters) in diameter and was known as the 36-foot Telescope. In 1984, it was renovated with a new backup structure and a slightly larger dish. At this point its name was changed to the 12 Meter Telescope.

In 2000, the NRAO passed control of the telescope to the University of Arizona. The University of Arizona had been operating the Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) located on Mount Graham since 1992. When it took over operations of the 12m, it created the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO), a part of Steward Observatory of the UArizona College of Science, which now runs both telescopes.

In 2013, the entire antenna (dish and mounting) was replaced with ESO's ALMA prototype antenna, which had been located in New Mexico. The new antenna is the same size (12 meters) but has a much better surface accuracy (thereby permitting use at shorter wavelengths), and a more precise mount with better pointing accuracy.

Observatory Information

This table displays some of the characteristics of the telescope and the site.

East Longitude -111° 36' 53.475"
North Latitude +31° 57' 12.000"
Elevation 1914 m (6280 ft)
Primary Reflector Diameter 12.0 m
Focal Ratio (f/D) Prime = 0.4, Cassegrain = 8.0
Surface Accuracy better than 60 µm rms
Mount Elevation over Azimuth
Slew Rate 6.0°/minute
Pointing Accuracy 2" rms
Elevation Limit
Enclosure Tracking astrodome with movable door

Science at the 12m Radio Telescope

In the almost 40 years since it was first built, the 12m Radio Telescope has been at the forefront of millimeter molecular astronomy: studying molecules in space through the use of molecular spectroscopy at millimeter wavelengths. Many of the molecules that have been discovered in the interstellar medium were discovered by the 12m.

See also

  • List of astronomical observatories
  • Lists of telescopes
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