Kitt Peak

On our wonderful Spring Break Trip to Tucson we had a chance to visit Kitt Peak, the home of the National Observatory which boasts 25 optical telescopes and 2 radio telescopes. These telescopes are not what you may be thinking: those cool instruments you can take out to the backyard and view the stars. These telescopes are massive and buried deep into the mountain-side and then soar off into the air. They are incredible to see in person.

The day we visited, they also had a solar telescope up and running. We were able to view the surface of the sun with two different filters. One highlighted the sun spots, and the other allowed us to see the plumes of gases swirling and moving on the surface of the sun. It was absolutely magical.

On this particular trip, we weren’t able to snag a spot in the nighttime tour group, but we were able to do the 1:30pm guided tour of the Mayall 4-m Telescope, which is the largest optical telescope on Kitt Peak.

Kitt Peak Mayall Telescope

On the walk up to this telescope, the guide showed us where they had to put a bolt into the side of the mountain during construction.

"Hey, Claire! Go stand by the bolt so we can show people how big it is." She obliged.

“Hey, Claire! Go stand by the bolt so we can show people how big it is.” She obliged.

As part of the tour, we were able to take an elevator up to the observation deck of this telescope. It’s enclosed in glass, and every so often, there was a little ladder for the kids to climb so they, too, could see out.

She hopped up on one of the ladders and gasped. “Mom!” she said. “May I use your phone to take a picture? This looks incredible.”

She hopped up on one of the ladders and gasped. “Mom!” she said. “May I use your phone to take a picture? This looks incredible.”

…and she was right.

What a view!

My favorite picture from this adventure was this picture Claire took while on that tour!

My favorite picture from this adventure was this picture Claire took while on that tour!

Click the photo to see more detail!

I can only imagine how spectacular the views are at night and in the opposite direction.

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