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Kitt Peak National Observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Overview of some of the telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Organization NOAO
Code 695  
Location Tohono O'odham Nation, Arizona, United States
Altitude 2,096 m (6,875 ft)
Weather 72% clear nights

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. The observatory is administered by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).

General information

Radio telescope - panoramio
Radio telescope

Kitt Peak was selected by its first director 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. 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 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 the largest solar telescope in the world and the largest unobstructed reflector. 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.

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

Welcome to Kitt Peak (6989360335)
Welcome to Kitt Peak
  • 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.

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.

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