Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kitt Peak National Observatory June 2017

                                    Inside the 4 meter Telescope

  Kitt Peak National Observatory is one of my favorite day trips near Tucson, Arizona. It is located about 57 miles south of Tucson, Arizona,  off of Route 86. At 7,000 feet the temperature is about 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in Tucson so it is bearable when Tucson is over 100 degrees. Kitt Peak can also be quite cold during the winter months. The mountain has the largest number of astronomical instruments in the world with 24 optical and two radio telescopes.

 Visitors can walk around the mountain and visit two of the telescopes- the 2.1 meter and Solar- without a docent; during summer of 2017, the 4 meter was only open during docent led tours. There are also nice picnic tables to eat lunch.  Docents lead tours to three of telescopes including Solar Telescope, 2.1 meter Telescope, and the 4 meter Mayall Telescope. The tour of the Solar Telescope is the first one of the day at 10 am and the 4 meter is 1:30. I would recommend the tours because all the docents I have had so far are knowledgeable and visitors learn about the history of Kitt Peak, how a telescope works and past as well as future projects. If you go bring a lunch, snacks and drinks because there is no food up on the peak. During the Summer Monsoon (July through September) storms can occur at Kitt Peak during the afternoon some of which can be intense. Watch the weather and bring an umbrella. Last summer I was caught on the mountain in a sudden thunderstorm that drenched both my son and I.

                   At the 2.1 meter looking across Kitt Peak. The 4 meter is in the distance.

                           The 4 meter has a 360 walkway that gives views all directions

                                     Looking inside the 4 meter

                         Storm blowing in over Kitt Peak

                          The top of the Solar Telescope

Visit during the winter with 4 inches of snow on the ground

Flandrau Science Center University of Arizona July 2017

My wife recently bought a Groupon membership to the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona. On a day in Tucson when the temperature was well over 100 degrees and my son was bouncing off the walls; we decided to activate our membership.  What we found were over a dozen games and puzzles related to science and the solar system, a gem and mineral collection and planetarium with 10 different shows. The games and activities are engaging for all ages. Since our first visit we have been back four times. Each time we have seen a  different planetarium show with Mysteries of the Unseen World and Asteroid Mission Extreme among our favorites.

If you go to the Flandrau Science Center without a membership it costs $16 per adult and $12 for kids as well as military members and senior citizens. Each admission includes one planetarium show.

                            Playing the game Towers of Hanoi

                                    Mineral Collection

                                     Simulating what a soda can would feel like on each planet

                                             A happy child playing a Fill The Hexacon game

                 Learning about Critical Life Zones and what animals/plants live at each zone