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Km 18.5 Road Stabilization Project

There is currently road work leading to the summit at Km 18.5. During Phase 1, the goal is to keep the road open with minor interruptions. There will be restricted access to cars but small SUV are okay. There are currently 2 windows per day that allow vehicles to pass through. The first is at 8:45-9:15AM with another at 3:50-4:20PM. Work begins at 6AM and continues to 6PM. Due to these closures, it is our preference that you plan for remote observing. Coming up to the mountain is still possible if you feel you must be there, but please expect the road to be closed at the time you might normally want to come down from the summit. Please also expect that it may not be an easy drive in the construction area. Phase 2 will begin in October and will have major interruptions.

MMT Observing Schedule - August-December

The observing schedule for August-December can be found here.

Update on Tours

Due to scheduled road construction leading to the MMTO, no tours are currently scheduled. Tours will resume towards the end of September or October. Please check back here for updates!

Successful Summer Shutdown

On August 15th, the MMT returned to normal operations after a three-week summer shutdown. Some of the scheduled work completed during this period included: wet washing the primary mirror, removing the decommissioned laser guide star system from the telescope, and replacing the electrical connectors on the telescope encoder power supply. Since the tasks were successfully completed on time and the opportunity was available, the 40-lead DIP resolver-to-digital converters for the azimuth axis were replaced with specially packaged 44-terminal LCC units. This was completed to increase the inventory of potential spare for this critical telescope component.

Successful Shutter Seal Replacement

In preparation for the shutter seal replacement, the Blue Channel instrument and the f/9 secondary mirror were removed on June 18th and the telescope was parked horizon pointing and covered with a tarp. Kappcon, Inc. then began the process of replacing the EPDM material used to seal the two MMTO shutter halves when closed. The horizontal seal section was replaced using a custom access platform borrowed from the LBT Observatory (as seen in the image here). The vertical seal section was replaced using a rented boom lift. This work was completed on June 26th, and after completing other maintenance tasks, the telescope was returned to normal nighttime operation on June 30th.

Observatory Improvements

The observatory will be closed June 18 through July 1 for shutter seal replacement. As part of the new heated roof contract, the p-seal and flapper seal used to seal the gap between the two shutter halves when in the closed position will be replaced. This work was scheduled to take place before the start of the monsoon season. Regular shutdown will be July 24-August 13 during which various maintenance tasks are scheduled.

MMTO at the SPIE meeting in June

Six staff members will be presenting talks or posters in June at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation meeting in Austin, TX. Topics include the re-aluminization as well as wet-washing in-situ of the 6.5-m primary mirror, queue scheduling software for instruments, wavefront sensor control and analysis, seeing statistics, and an overview of current and future upgrades to MMT instrumentation. Information on the Arizona Robotic Telescope Network will also be presented.

Tour Information

We were pleased to welcome the Smithsonian Journeys tour to the MMTO on May 15. Regularly scheduled tours are also available most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Reserve your spot by calling 520-879-4407. More information can be found here.

Tour Information

We hope you were able to visit our table at the recent Tucson Festival of Books! A virtual tour of our observatory was enjoyed by many! Reserve your spot for a real tour by calling 520-879-4407! More information can be found here.

Fri., April 20 - Stargazing at Historic Canoa Ranch

F.L. Whipple Observatory and the historic Canoa Ranch bring you Stargazing at Canoa on Friday, April 20. There will be a presentation from 6:30-7:30 followed by stargazing from 7:30-9:30pm (weather permitting), courtesy of the Sonora Astronomical Society. The Ranch is located south of Green Valley, following the Canoa Ranch Dr., exit 56, off I-19. A map and more details can be found here.