The 12m Telescope


The Arizona Radio Observatory operates and maintains a 12 meter diameter telescope on Kitt Peak, 50 miles (80 km) WSW of Tucson, Arizona, for astronomical observations at millimeter wavelengths.

The ARO 12 Meter Telescope began as the 36 Foot Telescope, the telescope responsible for the birth of millimeter-wavelength molecular astronomy. During a period of explosive growth in this new area of astronomical research dozens of molecular species known to exist in the interstellar medium were first detected at the 36 Foot. In 1984, the telescope's reflecting surface and surface support structure were replaced and the 36 Foot was re-christened the 12 Meter. Subsequently, the scientific program has evolved from one dominated by observing programs in Astrochemistry to one with a broader mix of studies of molecular clouds and Galactic star formation, evolved stars, Astrochemistry, and external galaxies.

The 12m offers users flexibility and the opportunity to respond quickly to new scientific developments. The Observatory maintains low-noise receiving systems covering all atmospheric windows form 68 GHz to 180 GHz. Operational reliability throughout is emphasized. Flexible spectral line and continuum backends allow the observer to match the instrument to the scientific goals. The telescope control system offers great flexibility, efficiency, and convenience, and provides a proven remote observing capability.

During the period from April 2013 thru November 2014 the original 12 Meter telescope was retired and removed. It was replace by a Alma Prototype Antenna designed by ESO. The prototype was moved from it's location at the VLA to the Kitt Peak dome in late 2013 and was fully operational by November 2014.



  East Longitude: -111 36 53.475
  North Latitude: +31 57 12.0
  Elevation: 1914 meters (6280 feet)
  Primary Reflector Diameter: 12.0 meters
  Focal Ratio (f/D)  
  Prime Focus: 0.40
  Secondary Focus: 8.0
  Surface Accuracy: < 60 um rms
  Mount: Elevation over Azimuth
  Slew Rate: Up to 6.0 Deg/Sec
  Pointing Accuracy: 2'' rms
  Elevation Limit: 3.0 degrees
  Enclosure: Tracking astrodome with movable door
  Beam Efficiencies: 87% at 87 GHz