Kitt Peak, AZ

Kitt Peak, gosh where do I begin??? It was everything I had hoped for and more! Well worth the three time rescheduling weather fiasco. If you are anywhere near Tuscon Arizona I highly recommend the night program!!! I really am speechless, I wish my dad could have been with me. He would have really gotten a kick out of it.

 

Four or five hours went by quickly, walking the campus and checking out the telescopes during the daylight. All telescope are off limits after 5pm. If you are visiting during the day (free self tours) and you are participating in the night program you are asked to wait in your vehicle until the area is cleared and the night program can begin at 6pm.

The sky was spotted with big fluffy white clouds through out the day. We entered the visitor center and were given a great welcome by Chuck Dugan while Lucas Snyder  passed out our bag dinners. I chose the veggie version when I booked my spot and was quite pleased.

Our host Chuck obviously loves his job. He’s witty and quick with the jokes. We are informed our program may be an indoor show and be prepared, we may not be able to view through the telescope. We receive a discount rate because of this. On the flip side because it is poor weather we are able to go behind the scenes to off limit areas.

After people settled Chuck started his program. The information is so overwhelming, in-visioning light years, the distance is so vast. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around much of it. We all pile into two vans, maybe 12 per van, and headed to the Mayall scope to watch the sunset. During orientation we were given little red pen lights with a compass and everything! Light is a no no around telescopes or as Chuck likes to call them “light buckets”. I have a flash back of many a night at the wheel in Alaska, only the red of the compass glowing. So we drive up the hill to the telescope with no lights on and informed we would be driving down the hill later, in our own vehicles, with our headlights off as well. This doesn’t sound too appealing to me with the mh and trailer.

After arriving back at the visitor center we were split into two groups. One group would go out to the telescope with Lucas and see two groups of stars while the other was inside warming up and being entertained by Chuck. We rotated twice seeing a total of four. Saving the best for last M42 it was spectacular! We then had a brief lesson on binoculars and moved outside to the patio. We located many constellations, checked out mars and finished off with the moon. It was a wonderful clear night, not a cloud in the sky, breathtaking.

The gift shop opened and we were given the chance to purchase souvenirs while Chuck briefed us on our decent from the mountain. He would lead us down with only our parking lights on. If the headlights were unable to be turned off Chuck would tape a piece of paper over the lens. Any light would effect the telescope and the scientist working with them. Some of these people have waited months if not years to have just one chance at working with this equipment. I had to reschedule three times due to weather. If the scientist has bad weather on their day, tough, to the back of the line. There is one private telescope on the hill, he paid millions to be there.

Castor: is a multiple star in the constellation Gemini, the twins. Throught the telescope a close pair of bright white stars and a more distant red dwarf companion are visable, but these are each spectroscopic binaries, making Castor a six star system. Castor is about 50 light years away.

M41: An open star cluster just below Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. It contains about 150 stars spread out over 25 light years, and is 2300 ly away. Aristotle described it in 325 BC as a “cloudy spot”

M44: The “Beehive Cluster.”  A large, bright, diffused open star cluster containing about 400 stars. It lies fairly close at a distance of almost 600 ly away. Another nickname: “Praesepe.”

M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster. A bright, nearby star cluster in the last stages of star formation. It has seven bright stars along with hundreds of fainter stars. It lies about 380 ly away and is around 100 million years old.

“Double Cluster” (NGC 884 and NGC 869): These two star clusters are a treat for binoculars and telescope alike. Each is a congregation of many hundreds of stars around 70 ly in diameter. These clusters are between 500 to 700 light years away.

M42: The Great Orion Nebula: This is a region of star formations about 1500 ly away. It is 30 ly across and contains enough material to make 10,000 stars the size of our sun.

M31: The Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest major galactic neighbor, It is a spiral galaxy, lies 2,200,000 ly away and has a diameter of 180,000 ly. This galaxy contains enough material as 300 billion suns.

Mars: The red planet, has a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, clouds, dust storms, and polar ice caps made of dry ice. Images of dry riverbeds from orbiting spacecraft show us that liquid water once flowed on the Martian surface.

Kitt Peak
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Comments

By Todd on March 2nd, 2010 at 8:11 am

Wow, you sound so intelligent! That place sounds really cool, I wana go.

By Steve n Stevie on March 2nd, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Aren’t Jehovah’s creations magnificent! We’re so happy you are sharing all your adventures with us! Thanks so much!

 

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