Logan Burtch-Buus

The New Year is finally upon us, Tucson. With the winter festivities and holiday spirit now racing away in the rearview, it is time to look ahead and see what 2014 may bring. The beginning of a new year can bring about many trails as people struggle to stick to their resolutions while others give up a week in. Instead of stressing about being a better person, take some time to look around your city for some fun. Located under the east wing of the UA football stadium is the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory.  This facility is responsible for creating “giant, lightweight mirrors of unprecedented power for a new generation of optical and infrared telescopes.” One of the most impressive science facilities in the world is tucked away under our own recently remolded stadium. The Mirror Lab has been producing unique, large scale mirrors for super powerful telescopes since 1985. Now responsible for creating the most powerful mirrors in the world, the UA Mirror Lab Tours is a short day trip packed with interesting sights and information. A tour of these labs offers an extremely unique opportunity to experience how the university in your very city is working to produce some of the most exceptional and important equipment involved in scientific research today. Tours of the facility offer a behind the scenes look at the amazing work done by the scientists as well as a look at the spin-casting process that creates the giant telescopic mirrors. The Mirror Lab is currently working on equipment for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope, as well as the Large Binocular Telescope, three of the most powerful pieces of scientific achievements to date. Each of these machines are capable of taking amazingly wide and deep views into our universe and open up new avenues of knowledge to scientists. Tours of the facility are offered throughout the month, every Tuesday and Friday as well as some Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11a.m. and 1p.m. Reservations are required in advance to get a spot on the tour and are available to be made either by phone or by email. Each tour lasts 90 minutes and is primarily made up of standing, walking, and going up and down stairs so keep that in mind if you plan on taking the trip. The tours are by no means a burden on your wallet, either. Tickets are only $15 for adults and $8 for students aged 7-22 years. Unfortunately because the Mirror Lab is a production facility, children under the age of 7 are not allowed on the tours for safety. There are also group rates for parties over 10. Instead of lounging around while the kids are off from school; take them out to learn something. Little did they know that right in their own city they could find one of the most impressive scientific facilities dedicated to making the most impressive mirrors for the most powerful telescopes in the world. Any kid with an interest in space in space and science would be hard pressed to find a better campus than at the University of Arizona to feed their desire for knowledge.

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