Welcome to Mount Graham International Observatory!

MGIO is a division of Steward Observatory, the research arm for the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.  Scientific researchers from around the world make use of MGIO facilities.  We serve this community, operating and maintaining facilities at the remote observing site located in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeast Arizona.  This area is part of the Coronado National Forest -- administered by the Safford Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service.  Our office, the MGIO Base Camp, is located at the eastern base of Mount Graham, six miles south of Safford, Arizona.

Research telescopes at MGIO are:

Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope

Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope

The Large Binocular Telescope

 

September 25, 2014 -- Preparing for Winter on Mount Graham

Work is underway to get ready for the winter season that will be here all too soon.  The temperate summit temperatures will soon give way to bone chilling cold and snow.  The snow plows and other heavy equipment are getting their final exhaustive checks to make sure they are ready to move the many tons of snow that are certain to fall on the roads.  It is interesting to look back and remember what we experienced last year at the astronomy site.

The chart below is a record of the winter 2013-2014 snowfalls at the astronomy site.  After each snowfall the crew would use a gauge to record the depth of the snowfall and add that to a chart.  This past winter they recorded a total of 47” of snowfall.  Anecdotally the snowfall should be much higher, 200” being about normal.  Less than ¼ of normal means that the past winter was very dry indeed. 

One of the MGIO crew members is a self-appointed prognosticator of when the first meaningful snowfall will occur on Mount Graham.  The first question is to define what a meaningful snowfall is.  Being a scientific organization, we had to come to a careful understanding of this in precise terms -- it was decided that greater than a half-inch of accumulation meets the mark of a meaningful snowfall.  Last year the prediction was the first meaningful snowfall would occur on November 14, 2013.  The first such snowfall occurred on November 24, 2013, so the prediction was fairly close!  This year the in-house expert is predicting the first meaningful snowfall will occur on November 12, 2014.  It will be interesting to see how close the first actual snowfall comes to this prediction!  Do you have a guess?!

 

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