Kitt Peak Visitor Center Restricts Hours Due To Extremely High Fire Danger
10 June 2002
Due to the extremely high fire danger and the possibility of dry lightning strikes, Kitt Peak National Observatory is closing public access to its grounds and the Kitt Peak Visitor Center at 2 p.m. daily instead of the normal 4 p.m. The time change will have an impact on the last guided tour of the day, which will start 30 minutes earlier than normal. The public picnic grounds have already been closed to visitors until further notice.
The new hours will take effect immediately and last until the monsoon rains start in July. This does not affect the Nightly Observing Program for the public, which will continue with a few changes, nor does it effect current astronomical research on the mountain.
"We expect the shift in hours to last approximately 6 weeks or until we get a good soaking from monsoon rains," says Public Outreach Manager, Rich Fedele. "Our primary concern is public safety," says Fedele. "By closing early we are reducing the number of visitors on the mountain during the time of potential dry lighting strikes, which normally start at the beginning of monsoon season and occur during the mid- to late-afternoon. We are watching the situation closely and may take further actions if needed."
Kitt Peak National Observatory is 90 minutes from downtown Tucson; take state Route 86 (Ajo Way) and follow the signs. The Visitor Center is open daily and admission is Free. Docent tours of the telescopes leave three times daily 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and now at 1:00 p.m. instead of 1:30 p.m.
Kitt Peak Visitor Center is run by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and is funded by the National Science Foundation and visitor contributions.
For more information, call the Visitor Center at 520/318-8726 or check our website at www.noao.edu.
Manager, Kitt PeakPublic Outreach