Bok Walk and IRAF Art

Using IRAF to make art

Weird output in IRAF. We use a program called IRAF to monitor the observing as we go. We use it mostly to check the shape of stars while we focus. If you look at this image, you’ll see what shape a star should look like in the above plot (i.e., round). But every once in a while, IRAF spits out some weird things, like the above image. It’s fun to hold on to.

On the Bok Walk

A shot of me on the Bok Walk, an balcony with a great view!.

Sometimes You WIYN

Back in 2012

In a previous visit to Kitt peak, in 2012, I was observing using the MDM 2.4m telescope. The MDM ‘scopes (they also have a 1.3m) are located a couple of miles down the mountain on a western ridge. There is a great view of the summit from there, you can see the Mayall 4m on the far left (I wrote about recently here), and the Bok 2.3m is right beside (I’ve written about it many times). This picture is of sunrise looking east after a night of observing. The clouds make for pretty mornings, but terrible observing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose


The WIYN 3.5m

I already posted about this pic here, when I visited the WIYN this past week.

Steward of Teaching

The Steward Observatory was erected...

The Steward Observatory owns multiple telescopes in varying locations (from Kitt Peak, to Mount Lemmon, to Mount Hopkinds, etc.). This is the sign out front of the Bok Telescope (installed in 1968). Aside from the Bok, Steward owns 4 other telescopes on Kitt Peak.


a chance to teach

On a previous observing run at Kitt Peak, I was afforded the chance to give an impromptu tour of the 2.3m. It was a result of it being a cloudy night (so I couldn’t observe), and there being a night time outreach program on the mountain. More is described here.


Arts and Science

The sign pointing the way up Kitt Peak

[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 is the original blank for the 4 meter telescope.

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.


This is what 3am looks like in the control room.

This is what 3am looks like in the control room.