Tucson in Pima County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)
The McMath Solar Telescope
This drawing shows the interior of the McMath solar telescope. You are looking at only part of telescope which is above ground. The tunnel for the light beam and the observing rooms where the scientific work is done are buried under the mountain. The picture illustrates the light path of the McMath main beam. At the top of the telescope is a 2 meter flat mirror. It is mounted in heliostat which will track the Sun (or stars), and it directs the light down the polar axis 135 meters to a 1.6 meter image forming, concave mirror. This mirror returns the beam back up the tunnel to a 1.5 meter flat which directs the beam into the observing room below. The beam from the 2 meter mirror, (the main beam), produces an image of the Sun about 84 cm in diameter in the main observing room.
The observing room has a 13.5 meter vertical spectrograph which spreads the sunlight into its component colors, and enables astronomers, from around the world, to study the composition, motions and magnetic fields of our nearest star – the Sun. The spectrograph can be seen in this drawing, going straight down into the mountain below the observing room. The observing room also contains a more compact stellar spectrograph is used for night-time use to study stars that are similar to the sun. There is also a laboratory to the east of the telescope
Focusing of the telescope, and set-up of the light feeds is accomplished by moving the mirrors along railroad tracks in the long tunnel. There are two smaller "auxiliary" telescopes on either side of the main instrument. These can be operated simultaneously. This allows for three different astronomers to work at the same time, with different instruments.
The McMath, named for Robert R. McMath, a Detroit engineer who pursued a life-long interest in the Sun and this observatory on played a major role in the founding of this observatory on Kitt Peak. This the largest solar observatory in the world. It is operated by the National Solar Observatory 24 hours a day for daytime-solar and night time-stellar research programs, carried out by staff and visiting scientists.
Location. 31° 57.479′ N, 111° 35.884′ W. Marker is in Tucson, Arizona, in Pima County. Marker is on Arizona Route 386 12 miles south of W. Tucson-Ajo Hwy. (Arizona Route 86), on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Located at Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation. Marker is in this post office area: Sells AZ 85634, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Kitt Peak National Observatory (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The WIYN Observatory (about 600 feet away); The Vacuum Telescope (approx. 0.2 miles away); Steward Observatory (approx. 0.3 miles away).
More about this marker. The marker is located next to the 2.1-meter telescope, about 200 yards from the Solar Telescope.
Also see . . .
1. Kitt Peak National Observatory. (Submitted on April 18, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. National Solar Observatory. (Submitted on April 18, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Categories. • Science & Medicine •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 26, 2017. This page originally submitted on April 18, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 116 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 18, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.