SaddleBrooke SkyGazers

Mirror lab

Sam Miller

During the week of December 4, members of the SaddleBrooke SkyGazers Astronomy Club visited the Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory at the University of Arizona. The Mirror Lab is housed on the ground floor at the east wing of the U of A football stadium.

In 1985, scientists and engineers began creating giant, lightweight mirrors for a new generation of optical telescopes that are now located at several sites around the world. Over the years, the team has continued to develop technology and processes to build honeycomb, parabolic glass mirrors that provide unprecedented power and optical clarity.

The Lab currently has three, 8.4-meter (approximately 27 ft.) mirrors in various stages of production for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The GMT, which is being constructed at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, will enable astronomers to study both planets around other stars and the most distant universe objects with more clarity and sensitivity than ever before. The GMT will provide imaging up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Mirror Lab offers docent-conducted tours for the public Monday through Friday at 1:00 p.m. and, as available, at 3:00 p.m. Groups are limited to 12 on each tour to accommodate the manufacturing facility and provide optimum viewing and information for participants. Additional information on the Mirror Lab and tour availability can be found on their website at