[Click to go to Google Maps location] This is the sign pointing the way up to Kitt Peak from the main highway 86 (Ajo Road) which heads west out of Tucson, Az. The mountain is open to the public daily; it’s well worth a visit.
This large cement donut is actually the original mirror blank for the Mayall 4 meter telescope, which I wrote about here. A mirror blank is simply a ‘stand-in’ for the actual mirror when the telescope is being constructed. Typically the telescope itself is built rather quickly, while the mirror takes a little bit longer. In order to properly balance the telescope, a ‘blank’ mirror (same size and weight) is made and installed in lieu of the actual mirror. When the mirror is completed and installed, the ‘blank’ is discarded. Happily, instead of discarding the 4m blank, it was installed out front of the Kitt Peak visitor centre and the local Tohono O’odham artists decorated it. I wrote a bit about the Tohono O’odham nation here. When art meets science, you create something beautiful.