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McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope




McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope
The world's largest solar telescope; it opened in 1962 on Kitt Peak, Arizona, and is a facility of the National Solar Observatory. It comprises three telescopes in one – the main, east auxiliary, and west auxiliary systems – that can be used concurrently or independently. The main telescope is housed in an inclined shaft, 152 m long, that runs parallel with Earth's axis. A heliostat mounted on a 33.5-m-high tower reflects sunlight down this shaft to a 1.6-m mirror, about 50 m below ground level, which reflects the light partway back up the shaft to a flat mirror. From the flat mirror, the light travels vertically down to form an image of the Sun 85 cm wide in a subterranean observation room. The telescope is named after American solar physicists Robert McMath (1891–1962) and A. Keith Pierce (1918–).


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   • OBSERVATORIES AND TELESCOPES