Monday, September 24, 2007

Manic Monday - Kit

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This week's Manic Monday word is "kit" and after debating whether I should pack up my troubles in my old kit-pack or explore the West with Kit Carson (which I felt fairly confident that Jamie was going to do!), I finally decided to spell the word just a little differently and take you on a trip to Tucson, Arizona.

Back in the mid-1960's, my Dad was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. This was back in the days when people still took Sunday drives and I can remember many times we'd all pile into the car and take off to destinations unknown, at least they were to us kids as we never knew where we were going until we got there! My parents were great at keeping secrets and despite lots of guessing, the four of us in the back seat generally had no idea where we would end up.

One of those impromptu road-trips brought us to the Kitt Peak National Observatory which has the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes. Located 56 miles southwest of Tucson, the observatory sits high above the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O'odham Nation and is home to twenty-four optical and two radio telescopes representing eight astronomical research institutions.

Perched atop a 6,880 ft peak of the Quinlan Mountains, Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) lays underneath some of the finest night skies in the world. Founded in 1958, KPNO operates three major nighttime telescopes. The other 19 optical telescopes and two radio telescopes are operated by a consortium of tenant facilities including the Calypso Observatory, the only private telescope on the mountain.

The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, named after astronomers Dr. Robert McMath and Dr. Keith Pierce, is the largest telescope of its kind in the world. Built in 1962 it contains a three-mirror heliostat at the top of its main tower which collects the sun's light and focuses it down a long shaft that continues underground where the telescope's prime focus is located. The McMath-Pierce is used to study the structure of sunspots, as well as sunspot spectra, but unlike other solar telescopes, the McMath-Pierce is sensitive enough to observe bright stars in the night sky, too. As a second-grader, this was pretty darned cool to tour as its 100-foot tower seems even bigger to a 4-foot child.

Other telescopes at KPNO include the 18-story 4-meter Mayall which can be seen from over 50 miles away and the Steward Observatory's 0.9-meter Spacewatch telescope, on the left. If you're interested in seeing more of the Kitt Peak National Observatory, check out the KPNO webcams which are located on the catwalk of the 2.1 meter telescope and the 4-meter telescope. Should you ever find yourself near Tucson, I highly recommend a visit in person!


33 comments:

  1. wow, what a beautiful place! We live about 70 miles south of Tucson (my husband is in the military too). I love your idea your parents had about keeping it a secret--we should try that with our kids. Kitt Peak looks spectacular!! Happy MM.

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  2. This is both different and wonderful, and something that needs to go on the places to see since I missed it while living in Tucson in 1960? I was in Tucson I swear.

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  3. P. S. didn't do Kit Carson ... but it does give me an idea for later.

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  4. Very cool.
    Thanks for all the info, Linda. I will check out the webcams sometime.

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  5. That's very cool!

    Happy Monday, Linda.

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  6. good kitt post, I like people who think.

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  7. I always enjoy the travels through your eyes. Inspirational.
    I think it's time to pack a bag and go somewhere.

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  8. Glad you didn't use "Emergency kit" for MM, lol ! This was very interesting. I also had to do these Sunday drives or walks and hated it ! Fortunately it's not done anymore.

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  9. We've lived here for nearly 17 years, and we've yet to venture forth to Kitt Peak. I guess we just take it for granted that it's there!

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  10. I would love to visit there....this was a great idea for kit!!

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  11. Hi Linda,

    Really enjoyed that post from the other side of the world - and he pictures were a great bonus.

    Keep smiling

    David

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  12. This is a very interesting post. If I ever get to Arizona I'll be sure to go have a look at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

    Happy Manic Monday.

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  13. Whoof, this is a woofnderful post. I learned new stuff.

    Come see what gets packed into a dawg's kit when going on a holiday.

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  14. i love love love sunday drives! what a lovely post honey!

    smiles, bee

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  15. Great MM post! I hadn't heard of this place in Arizona before...

    I had a rough time figuring this one out, but, my MM post is up and running now.

    peace, Villager

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  16. Telescopes. Very cool. Happy MM!

    Ian

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  17. How cool! I would love to go there. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. great post very interesting thanks for sharing

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  19. That is amazing! How lucky are you that you got to see it in person?

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  20. very informative entry..thanks for sharing..my bro is living there ...i'll tell him to visit that sites.
    mine is up late, hope to see you there!

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  21. Thanks for this very informative entry - very unique!

    Happy MM!

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  22. Fantastic shots, Linda! My post is up for MM, too.

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  23. Cool...! Nice post, and neat pics, too. Another reason to love the West more & more. Unblemished scenery, less crowded, and a cleaner, friendlier region. Someday hope to see these telescopes @ KPNO for myself! Thanks for sharing.

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  24. I love this post Linda. Awesome and I handn't heard about it before. You are so clever. Have a great MM. :)

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  25. Awesome information! A different variation of Kitt, i love it! happy MM :D

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  26. very cool
    Love that science stuff!

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  27. Oh my goodness, my eyes just got all big and round and dewy in the classic anime style. You would have to drag me out of a place like that in chains! I shall have to recommend it to my brother-in-law as a vacationing spot, he loves this stuff!

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  28. Cool twist, and even cooler pics. Sometimes technology is just amazing!!!!!!

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  29. Cool twist, and even cooler pics. Sometimes technology is just amazing!!!!!!

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  30. That's really cool. I remember in junior high, my class took a field trip to the Panetarium in San Francisco. That's fascinating stuff to kids.

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  31. EXCELLENT!!! Thanks for the information. I really like learning things like this.

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  32. I live in Phoenix and didn't even know they had this down in Tucson. We will have to check it out next time we are down there for an ASU game. Thanks.

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  33. What an amazing telescope. My brother is in Phoenix I'll have to send him this link.

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Thanks for visiting!