St. Gregory College Preparatory students partnered with Kitt Peak engineers looking for help to keep telescope mirrors clean.

Students in Colleen Kelley’s Advanced Placement Chemistry class worked with Chuck Gessner, risk manager at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, who was looking for assistance to calculate a formula that would help neutralize the chemical solution used to clean the aluminum coating off of the telescope mirror at Kitt Peak National Observatory, prior to being re-aluminized.

Gessner and his engineers use a chemical process to remove the aluminum coating from their glass mirrors. The chemicals wash down into a collection area and Gessner needed to determine the final pH of the remaining solution as well as the chemistry involved with reaching a neutral end solution.

Kelley and her students studied the chemical composition of each solution and in just one day, determined the final pH and provided a method to reach a neutral pH.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea​

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.