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Uncertainty haunts future of Kitt Peak

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The former astronomical hot spot of the world is finding itself in a battle to remain relevant. Kitt Peak National Observatory, located about 55 miles southwest of Tucson, was founded in 1958. It is on the Quinlan Mountains on the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation and is at an elevation of roughly 7,000 feet. Director of the observatory Dr. Lori Allen, stated that the observatory has seen a decline in funding of about 30 percent over the past couple of years. The observatory is funded by a combination of the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and NASA. Kitt Peak primarily receives funding from the National Science Foundation at the moment. According to Allen, the astronomy division of the National Science Foundation has been funded a flat level for the past several years. Due to this, the balance needed to...

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Understanding the most powerful objects in the universe

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Usually when people observe hot gas coming out of something, they are watching a politician deliver a speech. Astronomers have found objects that do the same thing but in a far more spectacular fashion. Quasars contain a supermassive black hole, with a disk of gas orbiting around the black hole and are most commonly found near the center of galaxies. As the gas orbits the black hole, it becomes charged and energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Astronomer Paul Smith of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona has dedicated nearly a decade to observing these extraordinary objects. Using the 2.3m Bok telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Smith has spent many nights viewing quasars. “This plays into my love of working at a telescope and obtaining accurate information with specialized instruments,” Smith said. According to Smith, other...

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Tucson based company has new home for exploring space

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By late 2018 Tucson-based World View Enterprises plans to fulfill the dreams of many by sending people into space.  World View Enterprises, a private company, is the only near-space exploration company in Arizona. For $75,000 customers will be taken to an altitude of roughly 100,000 feet, and stay up there for hours before gently coming back down. Andrew Antonio, director of marketing and communications for World View Enterprises, made it clear that the timeline to get people into space is fluid. “It’s hard to commit to a specific date for obvious reasons – safety is our No. 1 priority and we’re doing something that’s never been done before, which requires a lot of great research and development and learning along the way,” Antonio said. Initial plans from World View had the company sending customers up by 2017. “We won’t rush...

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