Description - Astronomers here are among the national and international leaders in observational and theoretical research in astronomy. At the same time, they are making breakthroughs in related technology development -- from new light detectors to giant telescope mirrors -- that promise to be a catalyst for a renaissance in optical and infrared astronomy.
Steward Observatory scientists also have key roles in major space astronomy missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Space Infrared Telescope Facility.
Steward Observatory was officially established in 1916 through the foresight and perseverance of its first director, Andrew Ellicott Douglass, and a generous bequest made by Mrs. Lavinia Steward in memory of her late husband, Henry B. Steward. The Steward gift was used to build an observatory on an isolated tract of university land -- a former ostrich farm. Its construction, delayed by World War I, was finally dedicated in 1923. The 36" diameter Newtonian telescope was the first astronomical telescope to have been built using All-American made products.
By 1963, however, its once solitary setting -- ideal for stargazing -- had been encroached upon by an expanding Tucson, and the observatory's original telescope was removed from the dome and relocated to a darker mountain site on Kitt Peak. A smaller 20" Cassegrain telescope was installed in its place for student use. The original dome, a stately structure covered with cream colored tile, is a campus landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Telescopes. Education.
Recreation - Classes at the University.
Tucson Sightseeing -
The variety of things to do and see in Tucson extends from the heart of the city to the surrounding area. Three historic districts—El Presidio, Armory Park, and Barrio Historico—provide convenient focal points for a walking tour of downtown Tucson. Around El Presidio, the old adobe wall that was part of the original town, are clustered other historic structures, among them restored homes of the city's early settlers and political leaders, as well as an artisans' marketplace housed in an adobe.
Located in the Barrio Historico district, El Tiradito—the "Wishing Shrine"—is one of the nation's genuine folk shrines. A few blocks away, at the edge of the Armory Park district, is the site of the printing office of a Spanish-language newspaper founded in 1878. Other popular attractions in the city include Tucson's world famous zoo, situated in Gene C. Reid Park, and the Tucson Botanic Gardens.
The ideal way to view the landscape surrounding Tucson is to take a leisurely driving tour that winds through miles of scenic Sonora desert, the only place where Saguaro cactus grows, ending at Mt. Lemmon. Covered with stands of aspen, Ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir, Mt. Lemmon offers vistas of the desert.
Other interesting excursions include Colossal Cave, one of the largest caves in the world, and Sabino Canyon, in nearby Colorado National Forest. Kartchner Caverns State Park, home of the world's largest living cave offers guided cave tours, hikes, and group use areas. Popular visitor attractions are Old Tucson, a western theme park and the site of a television and movie set, and Mission San Xavier del Bac, called the "White Dove of the Desert" because of its striking appearance from a distance.
Climate - Tucson is dry desert located at 2,400 feet. Summer high temperatures are most often over 100, and the winter lows are almost never below freezing. Temperature and rain fall amounts are quite different in the mountains around Tucson, with temperatures and snowfall amounts on Mt. Lemon enough for a small ski resort.
Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory
933 N Cherry Ave., Rm. N204
Tucson AZ 85721-0065