Kitt Peak National Observatory

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The Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) is a United States astronomical observatory located on 2,096 m (6,880 ft) Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O'odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Tucson. The observatory is considered to be part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), although some of the telescopes located here belong to other groups.

Some examples of this include the MDM Observatory which is owned and operated by the University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, Ohio State University, Columbia University, and Ohio University and the Burrell Schmidt telescope at the Warner and Swasey Observatory which belongs to Case Western Reserve University. With 26 independent telescopes, it is the largest, most diverse gathering of astronomical instruments in the world.


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.[1]

The principal instruments at KPNO are the Mayall 4 metre telescope; the WIYN 3.5 metre telescope; and further 2.1 m, 1.3 m, 0.9 m, and 0.4 m reflecting telescopes. The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope on the facilities is 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 in the location.

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