On July 15, the SaddleBrooke Photography Club took a field trip to the University of Arizona Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. This was a fascinating tour and perfect “cool” activity for a hot summer afternoon in Tucson. The lab is located under the east side of the U of A football stadium in a cavernous, climate-controlled bunker.
University of Arizona offers the top astronomy program in the country. Its original research facility, the Steward Observatory, was built in 1916. At that time, it boasted a cutting-edge telescope, measuring 36 inches, which now sits on Kitt Peak. The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab now creates reflective (mirrored) telescope lenses measuring 324 inches – 27 feet. Ironically, the only factor limiting the size is the width of current city underpasses that the towing vehicles must pass through.
The members that joined the field trip were astounded by the enormity of the lenses, and the minute specificity of the reflective surfaces. The current project the lab is working on is seven of these 27-foot reflective lenses to be used in the giant Magellan telescope scheduled to be operating by 2025 in Chile.
As visual artists/storytellers, whose tools are a form of specialty lenses, the photographers were enthralled with the presentation that docents Paul and Will provided. Astronomy is of special interest this month as the United States commemorates the lunar landing of Apollo 11 fifty years ago. Following the tour, the group gathered at Ermanos Craft Wine & Beer Bar on the historic 4th Avenue.
The SaddleBrooke Photography Club is a welcoming and inclusive group who always welcomes new members. The club’s mission is to share knowledge and serve all levels of photographers. Join us every Wednesday or Friday from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the Agate Room in SaddleBrooke TWO to learn more.