Top of the world

Mt. Lemmon is the highest point of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. It is an excellent location for telescopes because of its high elevation (over 9100 feet), isolation from city lights, and consistently sunny weather. I recently had a chance to see through one of these instruments on a chilly evening spent with the facility’s director. It is a wonderful feeling to be walking around at a point where no higher points can be found – the world drops off in all directions. The audacity of putting telescopes on mountaintops feels almost sacred, as though we are building temples and links to other worlds.

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That night the seeing was not good, because of a rare storm pushing through the desert. The turbulent dusty air did, however, make for a beautiful blood-red sunset.

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