Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
March 15, 1996
The McMath-Pierce Solar Observatory
Credit and Copyright: Bill Keel, University of Alabama
Explanation: This odd-looking structure silhouetted in the foreground houses the three largest solar telescopes in the world. Located in Kitt Peak, Arizona, the largest telescope inside the McMath-Pierce Facility is 1.6-metres in diameter and contains only mirrors. The telescope contains no windows or lenses because focusing bright sunlight would overheat them. Visible in the background of this sunrise photo are the Moon and Venus. The telescopes are used in many research projects including determining the Sun's structure, researching the cause of the solar corona, monitoring Sun-spots and solar flares, and observing bright planets and comets near the Sun. The telescopes even help monitor the Earth's atmospheric content of ozone and CFCs!
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.