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Kitt Peak Observatory played important role in Apollo 11 mission

Apollo astronauts saw reflected moon image
Posted at 6:18 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 21:18:07-04

The Kitt Peak National Observatory is known for having one of the largest arrays of optical and radio telescopes in the world, but it also played a role in planning the Apollo 11 missions.

This year marks the 50th anniversary for the the landing of the Apollo 11 on the Moon, and to plan it, in 1964 the Apollo astronauts gathered around the large reflected image of the moon produced by the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope at Kitt Peak. The telescope’s design allowed for collective viewing of the moon rather than requiring individual observers to go to an eyepiece, a capability not available on any other telescope.

The astronauts saw moonlight captured by a 2-meter (40 inches) heliostat when planning humanity’s first trip to the moon. This helped give them a good visual for what to expect when they got to space to go to the Moon.