Kitt Peak Visitor Center

We feature 3 research-quality telescopes to give you views that move you closer to the cosmos

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Tours, Stargazing,
Programs, and Exhibits

Visitor Center Telescopes and Equipment

20in (0.5M) Ritchey-Chretien Telescope

Used for nighttime viewing and
astrophotography programs

This research-grade telescope was acquired by acquisition in 2003 and is a state-of-the-art reflector telescope. Its primary mirror is hyperbolically curved to permit focal lengths of f/8.1. The secondary mirror is automatically controlled by a Telescope Control Component (TCC). The telescope and the TCC were originally manufactured by RC Optical Systems. The attached refractor telescope is a Takahashi 106 FSQ (106mm f/5).

16in (0.4M) Ritchey-Chretien Telescope

Used for nighttime viewing and
astrophotography programs

This research-grade telescope was acquired by acquisition in 2006 and is a state-of-the-art reflector telescope. Its primary mirror is hyperbolically curved to permit focal lengths of f/8.4. The secondary mirror is automatically controlled by a Telescope Control Component (TCC). The telescope and the TCC were originally manufactured by RC Optical Systems. The attached refractor telescope is a TEC APO140ED (140mm f/7) .

16in (0.4M) Ritchey-Chretien Telescope

Used for nighttime viewing and
astrophotography programs

This research-grade telescope was acquired by donation from Dr. Joseph Levine in 2013 and is a state-of-the-art refector telescope. It was custom designed and manufactured to the donor's specifications by local manufacturers. It has an attached 5in. (127mm f/7) Meade refractor. The primary mirror is hyperbolically curved to permit focal lengths of f/10.

Solar Viewing and Heliostat

We are pleased to demonstrate our heliostat and our solar viewing telescopes

These pieces of equipment allow safe viewing of our dynamic Sun during your daytime visit. They are open and viewable for free whenever weather and docent staffing permit. Come see the nearest star like never before!

Heliostat

See our Sun's sunspots on a large screen in the comfort of the Visitor Center

Mounted on the roof of the Visitor Center is a tracking mirror that relays a live visible-light image of the Sun. During peak periods of solar activity numerous sunspots may be seen. The Sun's activity level changes day to day and on a longer 11 year cycle. Viewing occurs inside the Visitor Center auditorium/exhibit gallery when weather and staffing permit.

Solar Telescopes for Visitor Viewing

Observe the sun through special filters to protect your eyes

To the unaided eye, the Sun presents an image of stability and a uniform yellow-white surface. Viewed through our two special telescopes, the Sun reveals itself to be dynamic, intricately detailed, and ever changing. A filtered visible-light telescope reveals the presence of sunspots. The second telescope views the solar atmosphere in a very narrow range of red light ("Hydrogen-Alpha") to show colossal prominences, filaments, loops, and more. Viewing occurs when weather and docent staffing permit. These telescopes are located in a small observatory dome not far from the giant McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope.

Solar Time Machine

Tell time using the Sun's shadow

Before the age of telescopes and clocks, telling the time of day was difficult. The ancient astronomers discovered the regularity of the motion of the Sun. They also discovered the seasons, so important to agriculture. By sticking a vertical pole in the ground they noticed the daily changing of the length and position of the pole's shadow. This eventually resulted in sundials, which became clocks for telling the time of day.

But the Sun's position varies approximately 4 minutes each day. Many devices were invented to compensate for this seasonal changing, and here before you is one such device. Essentially it is a time machine. See if you can understand its workings.


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