Mt. Hopkins

One of the best views in Southern Arizona can be had from the four-story box that houses the MMT.

 I stomp on my car’s brake pedal, sending it sliding to a quick stop on the narrow, dusty road. Emerging from a blind curve, the driver of a Jeep bearing government license plates does the same. To my left is a wall of sheer rock; on my right the road drops precipitously out of sight. The other driver and I stare at each other through the resulting dust cloud like gunslingers in an Old West showdown.

This is the only route to the MMT Observatory, a massive telescope perched at the top of Mount Hopkins in Southern Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains east of Green Valley. I’m traveling to the 8,500-foot peak to get a first-hand look at modern astronomy. While I know that professional astronomers no longer spend the night squinting through an eyepiece, I’m eager to learn how the whole process works.

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