Severe wildfires raging in Arizona have reached the top of Kitt Peak, which is home to the observatory of the same name. The fire destroyed four buildings that were not used for research, and created a threat to the main complex where the telescopes are located.
On June 11, wildfires began in Arizona. The combination of high temperatures, strong winds and a large amount of dry vegetation led to the fact that they quickly covered a large area. By June 16, the fire began to approach Kitt Peak Observatory. To slow down the spread of the fire, firefighters cleared a strip of trees on one of the mountain slopes. As for the observatory staff, they removed all flammable materials around the telescopes and de-energized the equipment, after which they evacuated.
On June 17, the fire reached the top of Kitt Peak. According to preliminary data, it destroyed four buildings that were not used for research (mostly we are talking about dormitories). As for the telescopes, judging by the preliminary assessment, they remained intact.
At the same time, so far firefighters have managed to localize only 40% of the fire, so the threat to the observatory still remains. In addition, even if the telescopes were not physically damaged, they probably got dust and soot, so they will need a thorough “cleaning”. Coupled with the need to assess the consequences of the fire and restore damaged and destroyed infrastructure, this means that, most likely, the observatory will be able to return to observations only in a few months.
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According to https://noirlab.edu
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