G e o f f H a i n e s - S t i l e s
PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE & the LIVE FROM... specials
Friday November 20
"Sunrise...Sunset" on Kitt Peak
As viewers will see, the McMath, built in the 1960's, is still an amazing and beautiful structure. To keep the Sun's image as stable as possible, the entire shell of the telescope is ringed with coolant, running through what looks like corrugated roofing, painted blinding white inside and out. It was like being inside a colossal radiator! To travel up to the top, you ride a trolley, with wheels like a San Francisco street car. The images created by this and the other telescopes we'd seen on this trip-the Richard B. Dunn Vacuum Tower Telescope at Sac. Peak, and Hilltop Dome, also on Sac. Peak (which transmits daily, white light "patrol" images of the Sun to the Net)-never failed to emphasize just how wrong is our impression of the Sun as a featureless disc... and just how impressive is the engineering it took to design and build these extensions of our human senses. We met Richard Dunn himself at Sac. Peak-who designed that powerful telescope, shaped like a very skinny pyramid-and we met Keith Pierce (yep, the Pierce in "McMath-Pierce") at Kitt Peak. Both were officially "retired", but it was obvious that both so loved the instruments they'd built, and the sights they could deliver, too much to take retirement seriously. Thinking students should meet some veteran watchers of the sky who relished work too much to take it easy, we interviewed Dr. Pierce, and you'll soon meet him on camera or online.