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May 19, 2005

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope

The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope is currently the largest unobstructed aperture optical telescope in the world, with a diameter of 1.5 meters. It sits on Kitt Peak at an altitude of 2096 meters and is located 90 kilometers southwest of Tucson, Ariz. Because of it's size, it can also be used for bright star work during the night. Most solar telescopes are only sensitive enough to observe the bright sun.

The McMath-Pierce is one of two observing facilities that comprise the National Solar Observatory (NSO). The other facility is located at Sacramento Peak, N.M.

The mission of NSO is to advance knowledge about the sun both as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on the Earth by providing forefront observational opportunities to the research community. The mission includes the operation of cutting-edge facilities, the continued development of advanced instrumentation both in-house and through partnerships, conducting solar research, and educational and public outreach.

NSO is one of several observatories that comprise the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO), a national center for research in ground-based optical and infrared astronomy supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Inc., under a cooperative agreement with NSF.


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