ARO 12m Radio Telescope

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Coordinates: 31°57′12″N 111°36′53.48″W / 31.95333°N 111.6148556°W / 31.95333; -111.6148556

The ARO 12m Radio Telescope (ARO12m or KP12m) was a 12-meter dish located on Kitt Peak, approximately 60 mi (100 km) from Tucson, Arizona at an elevation of 6215.8 ft (1894.5 m). It is currently decommissioned.


The 12m was built in 1967 under the umbrella of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). At that time, the dish was 36 feet (11 meters) in diameter and was known as the 36-foot Telescope. In 1984, it was renovated with a new backup structure and a wider dish. At this point its name was changed to the 12 Meter Telescope.

In 2000, the NRAO passed control of the telescope to the University of Arizona. The University of Arizona had been operating the Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) located on Mount Graham since 1992. When it took over operations of the 12m, it created the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO) which now runs both telescopes.

Observatory Information[edit]

This table displays some of the characteristics of the telescope and the site.[1]

East Longitude -111° 36' 53.475"
North Latitude +31° 57' 12.000"
Elevation 1894.5 m (6215.8 ft)
Primary Reflector Diameter 12.0 m
Focal Ratio (f/D) Prime = 0.42, Cassegrain = 13.8
Surface Accuracy 75 λm rms
Mount Elevation over Azimuth
Slew Rate 60°/minute
Pointing Accuracy 5" rms
Elevation Limit 15°
Enclosure Tracking astrodome with movable door

Telescope Block Diagram[edit]

The following diagram provides an overview of the way in which the telescope operates at millimeter wavelengths.

Science at the 12m Radio Telescope[edit]

In the almost 40 years since it was first built, the 12m Radio Telescope has been at the forefront of millimeter molecular astronomy: studying molecules in space through the use of molecular spectroscopy at millimeter wavelengths. Many of the molecules that have been discovered in the interstellar medium were discovered by the 12m.


External links[edit]