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Aden Meinel, First Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory, Passed Away

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Astronomy and optical science lost a great pioneer and innovator when Dr. Aden Meinel passed away on 2 October 2011. Meinel led the development, and became the first Director, of the Kitt Peak National Observatory, located near Tucson, AZ. He then went on to become Director of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, where he also founded the Optical Sciences program.

In the early 1950s, when the US astronomical community started talking about establishing a National Astronomical Observatory, the committee formed to guide the effort selected Meinel, an astronomer then at Yerkes Observatory, to lead the project. He knew that the skies in the Southwest were the most satisfactory, so his small team concentrated on the mountains there. In May 1955, Meinel arranged for his colleague Helmut Abt to fly in a small plane from McDonald Observatory in west Texas to assess the mountain summits. Based on that survey, Kitt Peak looked promising, and a visit to the summit was made in March 1956.

Full Story: http://www.noao.edu/news/2011/pr1105.php

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