University of Arizona Mirror Lab

University of Arizona Mirror Lab

This is an excerpt  from the University of Arizona website. At the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory, a team of scientists and engineers are making giant, lightweight mirrors of unprecedented power for a new generation of optical telescopes.

These mirrors represent a radical departure from the conventional solid-glass mirrors used in the past. They have a honeycomb structure on the inside; made out of Ohara E6-type borosilicate glass that is melted, molded and spun cast into the shape of a paraboloid in a custom-designed rotating oven. Honeycomb mirrors offer the advantages of their solid counterparts – rigidity and stability – but they can be significantly larger, and dramatically lighter.

The Mirror Lab team has also developed a revolutionary new method to polish the honeycomb mirrors with a deeply curved, parabolic surface that results in much shorter focal lengths than conventional mirrors.

NARCON has arranged for two tours of the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab on Friday, March 6, 2020.  The tours are at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  Each tour can accommodate 30 people.  The price for the tour is $18.00 per person.  Please note that we will release unreserved tour slots on January 31.  Individuals wishing to participate in the tour after that date will need to make their own tour reservations directly with the mirror lab.

The tour takes you through a large-scale scientific research and development facility.  A portion of the tour involves walking, as well as climbing and descending stairs.  The laboratory requires guests to wear closed toe shoes for safety and comfort; you mat not be permitted to attend the tour without closed toe shoes.  Sneakers are recommended for ease, safety, and comfort.  The minimum age for the tour is 10 years old and minors must be accompanied by an adult.  If you have questions about accessibility or disability related accommodations  please contact Vannessa Gressieux at 520-626-8792 or

 See the process of making a giant mirror

Directions to Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory Tours

Allow at least 20 minutes:

From the Sheraton Tucson Hotel
5151 E Grant Rd
Tucson, AZ 85712

Head northwest toward N Rosemont Blvd, 138 ft
Turn left toward N Rosemont Blvd, 148 ft
Turn left onto N Rosemont Blvd, 348 ft
     Pass by IHOP (on the left)
Turn right onto E Grant Rd, 2.5 mi
     Pass by Smashburger (on the right in 0.4 mi)
Turn left onto N Country Club Rd, 1.5 mi
Turn right onto E 6th St, 1.2 mi
Turn right onto N National Championship Dr
Destination will be on the left, 305 ft

Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory
527 N National Championship Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85719

The laboratory is located on the east side of UA Football Stadium. Please look for Gate 4 of the football stadium, follow the sidewalk south to the Mirror Lab entrance.  Look for two blue benches.

Note:  the Mirror Lab parking lot is restricted to UA permit parking, so please use parking meters or the Cherry Ave (north of stadium) or South Stadium Garages.  All parking is self-pay.