Kitt Peak National Observatory
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory was formed in 1982 to consolidate all AURA-managed ground-based astronomical observatories (Kitt Peak National Observatory, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and the National Solar Observatory with facilities at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and Kitt Peak, Arizona) under a single Director. Today, the National Solar Observatory has its own director. NOAO also represents the US astronomical community in the International Gemini Project through its new NOAO Gemini Science Center.
NOAO's purpose is to provide the best ground-based astronomical telescopes to the nation's astronomers, to promote public understanding and support of science, and to help advance all aspects of US astronomy. As a national facility, NOAO telescopes are open to all astronomers regardless of institutional affiliation.
Kitt Peak was selected in 1958 as the site for a national observatory after a 3-year survey that included more than 150 mountain ranges across the U.S. The Observatories on Kitt Peak are supported by the National Science Foundation. In 1957, the NSF entered into contract with the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for the operation of Kitt Peak as a national center for optical astronomy. In 1982 the National Optical Astronomy Observatories was formed, consolidating management of the three national ground-based optical observatories which are Kitt Peak National Observatory, the National Solar Observatory with facilities at Kitt Peak and Sacramento Peak, New Mexico, and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Headquarters for NOAO are in Tucson, Arizona.
Kitt Peak, located in the Quinlan Mountains of the Sonoran Desert, comprises 200 acres of the nearly 3 million acre Tohono O'odham Nation. This land is leased by NOAO from the Tohono O'odham under a perpetual agreement that is valid for as long as scientific research facilities are maintained...