The Kitt Peak Virtual Tour




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  Construction of the building to house the massive 4-meter (158-inch) telescope began in 1968 and was completed in late 1970. Since that time, the telescope was dedicated, and a major alteration to the dome was performed to improve image quality.
  The mirror blank received final inspection at the Owens-Illinois plant in Toledo, Ohio on January 7th, 1970. Late in 1971, the mirror blank was received by Kitt Peak National Observatory and is seen here on the ground floor of the optics shop in October 1972.

The highest point on Kitt Peak was selected for the site of the 4-meter telescope. Multiple hexahedron supports were positioned, forming the pier, followed by construction of the dome.

The construction site on June 5, 1969, is shown here.


This photograph displays the exterior of the 4-meter as it originally appeared.

In 1997, 22 vents were installed in the dome for improved air circulation and temperature control.


Following the retirement of Dr. Nicholas U. Mayall as Director of the Kitt Peak National Observatory, the 4-meter was dedicated on June 20th, 1973, as the Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope.

Dr. Mayall is seen here on March 2nd, 1973, observing at the prime focus of the telescope that would be later named for him.


Dr. Nicholas U. Mayall served as the Director of the Kitt Peak National Observatory from 1960 to 1971.


The original design called for a 150-inch mirror. However, it was cast larger and cut back to 158 inches, which was the largest the mirror could be over the design size and still fit the telescope.


A difference in the temperature of the telescope mirror and the surrounding air can result in distorted images. Even a two degree difference can cause blurring.





There is much more to being an astronomer than observing and collecting data at night. For example, since time spent on a telescope is precious, exacting preparation is required in advance of even one night's work.


What's a typical day like for an astronomer?

The answer may surprise you.

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NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The Kitt Peak Virtual Tour is developed and maintained by the NOAO Educational Outreach Office.

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