We left the trailer this morning and headed down to the Kitt Peak National Observatory just ninety miles out of Tucson and up to an elevation of 6850 feet.
The site encompasses 25 telescopes of various sizes including two radio telescopes on property leased by the National Science Foundation in October 1958 from the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The 200-acre site was leased with the understanding that it would be use only for scientific research facilities and there would be no commercialization on site or use of the facility for military research. Kitt Peak was picked from 150 sites in 1957 as the first location of the first national astronomical observatory. Kitt Peak is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observation (NOAO) located in Tucson. NOAO operates Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile and provides astronomers with access to observe The Gemini North and South telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. The Association of Universities operates NOAO for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Many universities have vested interest in the site including the University of Washington in our hometown.
It is a spectacular site to behold as you climb to the 6850-foot mark in just 11.5 miles. Winding up the road way (paved) around the hills and watching the valley below become smaller and smaller. Before you started you could see one of the biggest telescopes (Mayall) against the skyline. As you get closer you begin to realize just how big it is. We arrived at the visitor center and went in to observe some of the reasons this place exists. We are but a dot on the face of the universe.
It was solar observation day so Mia and I got a chance to look through one of the smaller telescopes to see the sun through two different filters. One made it appear like you would see the moon. It was white with a black solar spot. The other lens showed a red ball of fire with long flare-ups jumping across the lower edge. It was amazing. As you can see by the pictures tonight will not be good for their evening observation program. We didn't plan to stay until evening but it would have been fun to star gaze using one of these huge telescopes.
We took some pictures of the facility and headed back home. It is a little cooler tonight but still ninety-one degrees here at six o’clock. And the damned air conditioner has gotten worse. It now pops the trailer breaker very quickly leading me to believe there is something dramatically wrong with it. In addition to that, last night I tried to fire the hot water heater using the 12-volt ignition on the propane side. It failed to cycle. It wouldn’t cycle this morning when I tried it again. I am a little dis-appointed, as we have never had issues with any of this stuff before. I can’t get the cover off the AC unit until I can find an impact driver. Hopefully Harbor Freight will have one tomorrow and I can get in and check the evaporator and condenser and make sure there are no obstruction (needles, leafs and such). If that is all okay then I suspect something is causing a build up of head pressure in the compressor and it is doing what it supposed to do…shut down. The dis-appointment comes from leaving with everything working and loosing appliances as we go. Luckily we are leaving the heat behind on Thursday. Let us pray that the furnace doesn’t decide to join the other appliances.
Hope everything is well and thanks for dropping by.