Since Florence Marie was leaving on Tuesday this week, we took her to Kitt Peak, a place we’ve talked about visiting for several years but never have until now.
The observatory is located on the second most sacred peak of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Patience and tenacity on the part of the National Science Foundation, which had decided on the location as one of the three best sites around the nation, won a perpetual lease agreement with the Nation. Time on the telescopes is sought after by students and scientists from all over and must be reserved long in advance, sometimes even years. A prospect must submit a paper outlining their desired project and it must be determined to be worthy of time. Kitt Peak is famous for hosting the first telescope used to search for near-Earth asteroids.
While we were there, we were able to view sunspots and some sort of spikes out from the edge of the sun through a solar telescope. These “spikes” are not the same as flares, we learned, but I forget exactly what they called them. Flares leave the surface and don’t come back. We stared at the sun (albeit through a protected telescope) and did not go blind!
When we stopped for a picnic lunch on the way back down the mountain, we were joined by a couple of beautiful beggars looking for a handout. Anyone have a name for them?