Kitt Peak National Observatory


For astronomers to study the heavens, it takes engineers here on earth to build the structures and design the myriad equipment required to unlock the secrets of the cosmos. The Kitt Peak National Observatory is the world's largest collection of optical telescopes (22 optical and two radio telescopes), including the world's largest solar telescope (McMath-Pierce), and the mammoth Mayall Telescope with its 4-meter mirror. Keeping large telescopes and their heavy mirrors stable as they track objects across the sky requires both sturdy telescope structures and advanced electronic feedback equipment that detects structural deflections.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Other
Topic(s):Space/Transportation
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The 4-meter Mayall Telescope has a 15 ton primary mirror polished to one millionth of an inch. The reflective aluminum coating of the mirror has a thickness of only one thousandth that of a human hair.