The Kitt Peak Virtual Tour



The Dedication
Fact Sheet
Home Page
Photo Album
Schematic Diagram
Science Highlights
Web Resources

The WIYN Telescope is the newest telescope on Kitt Peak, having been formally dedicated on Saturday, October 15, 1994.

NOAO operates the WIYN Observatory on Kitt Peak on behalf of the WIYN Consortium, comprised of the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Yale University and the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO).

On the mountain, the WIYN is second largest only to the Mayall 4-meter telescope. The building which houses the WIYN is considerably smaller, however, reflecting the technological innovations that occurred during the intervening years. The WIYN Telescope has a primary mirror with a short focal length, resulting in a shorter telescope. The altitude-azimuth mount also requires less space.

Several innovative features have resulted in the WIYN Telescope producing consistently sharper images than any of the other telescopes on Kitt Peak. Active ventilation of the telescope mount and an open telescope chamber maintain the entire observatory at the nighttime air temperature. Also, 66 actuators positioned on the rear of the primary mirror push or pull to obtain the best optical image.

In addition to these technological breakthroughs, the WIYN telescope will be upgraded with a tip-tilt module and adaptive optics to allow the telescope to obtain even sharper images.

The WIYN telescope is one of the best imaging telescopes in the world. For example, this picture of spiral galaxy NGC 6946 is a two-minute exposure taken on the night of September 26, 1994. The image is displayed in pseudo-color with an orange/red-shading. This galaxy, found in the constellation Cygnus, is over 70,000 light years across. At least one supernova has been observed in this galaxy.

Additional pictures of galaxies, nebulae and stars obtained with the WIYN Telescope are displayed in the collection of WIYN Images.

The WIYN telescope is credited with important work in researching supernovae in distant galaxies, in understanding the origin of gamma ray bursts, and in the evolution of stars in clusters.

NOAO receives 40% of the time on the WIYN telescope to distribute to the U.S. astronomical community on the basis of peer-reviewed telescope proposals.


The WIYN, pronounced "win," has been used to research supernovae in faraway galaxies. A supernova is a stellar explosion marking the final stage of a massive star's life.



NGC 6946 is 20 million light years from Earth. That means, the light used by the WIYN's CCD camera to produce the image shown here, left that distant galaxy 20 million years ago.


Can we travel out of our galaxy, the Milk Way?

Here's the answer!!


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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.

Copyright © 1999 The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. All Rights Reserved.