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Kitt Peak telescopes undamaged from wildfire

Firefighters have so far been able to protect the telescopes on Kitt Peak in Arizona from being damaged by a fast burning wildfire that began a week ago.

In a statement, NOIRLabs, which manages Kitt Peak Observatory for the National Science Foundation, said a crew of firefighters are working on the summit with multiple engines. Hydrants have been tested, and fire hoses deployed to defend the observatory’s buildings, they said, adding firefighters are dropping “large amounts” of fire retardant on the southern end of the observatory in an effort to slow the fire’s advance.

On Thursday, firefighters cleared a line of trees and brush below the peak’s southern ridge, an effort that was “mostly complete” by the evening, said NOIRLabs. Firefighters also cleared the area around individual domes, as well around “critical infrastructure,” and around flammable propane tanks. In some places, ground crews started backfires to create fuel breaks, officials said.

Firefighters are continuing to remove brush on the slopes, and have spotters watching for hot-spots.

That this point it appears the telescopes are safe, as the fire teams allow the fire to burn out.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • Col Beausabre

    Shouldn’t the so brilliant minds at Kitt Peak have realized the danger of wildfires (like they happen every summer in Arizona) and had the underbrush cleared on their own dime? It’s not rocket science, folks. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is ancient wisdom, as is “Penny wise and pound foolish”

  • Tim Johnson

    Col, what makes you think this wasn’t done? I encourage you to read the article at link in the first sentence of this article.

    A lot of hard work went into minimizing fire damage on the peak, and protecting the telescopes there. There are over 20 optical telescopes and I believe two radio telescopes in the complex. I don’t know of an observatory with more.

  • Col Beausabre

    Clearly says the firefighters are doing the job that should have been done by foresters

  • Max

    These facilities were necessary and advanced science in the 20th century. It’s time now to make the concerns of weather, fire, atmospheric distortions go the way of the steam engine.
    Museums are full of human accomplishments, huge milestones, stepping stones, that are no longer relevant. It’s time to make meaningful steps /leaps towards the future… we all know it’s around the corner. (I ’m thinking a dozen more Hubble telescopes with 1000 times the capabilities for the price of the original, with radio telescopes miles wide in various craters beginning on the moon)
    The technology and the capabilities for so much more is currently available… Unless the progressives (regressive) have their way and shut it all down. If that’s the case, then the future of the peak will be the same as in Hawaii…
    The fire breaks will not be maintained or blocked for environmental or religious reasons and the infrastructure to fight fires on the peak will go away. It will be deemed unsustainable, not physically responsible, socially inappropriate, not equitable in its appropriations for its lack of diversity. The peak, next time, will burn.

    No doubt the environmentalists will cheer exclaiming “the earth has won” restored to its natural form. One only needs to watch the environmental news to know that those in charge now firmly believe that the only way to save the planet is if the human race loses.
    Immediate action trumps thoughtful planning and stewardship. Destroying the planet in the name of saving it.

    Hopefully we can put off the dark age just a little longer.

  • It’s pretty hard to start a space-based telescope on fire. Conversely, the micro-meteor threat to ground-based telescopes is equally small.

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