McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope on Kitt Peak


KPNO is a division of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation

Spiral sunspot The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope on Kitt Peak was dedicated in 1962.

The McMath-Pierce solar telescope is the world's largest solar telescope, and the world's largest unobstructed-aperture optical telescope with a diameter of 1.6 meters. Permanent instruments include a dual grating spectrograph capable of extended wavelength coverage (0.3-12 microns), a 1-meter Fourier Transform Spectrometer for both solar and laboratory analysis, and a high-dispersion stellar spectrometer.

Important discoveries include: detection of water and isotopic helium on the Sun; solar emission lines at 12 microns; first measurement of Kilogauss magnetic fields outside sunspots and the very weak intra-network fields; first high resolution images at 1.6 and 10 microns; detection of a natural maser in the Martian atmosphere.


McMath-Pierce solar tunnel
McMath-Pierce solar tunnel
under construction
McMath-Pierce solar telescope
McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope


Image Caption: This rare spiral sunspot was imaged on February 19, 1992, with the Vacuum Telescope on Kitt Peak. Sunspots occur in cycles, with the number of sunspots reaching a maximum every 11 years. The next solar maximum will occur in the spring of 2000.


Kitt Peak 40th
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Last updated: 31Jul1998
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