Construction of World’s Largest Telescope Begins in 2012

December 30, 2011


Construction of World’s Largest Telescope Begins in 2012

The European Southern Observatory’s plan to begin construction of the world’s largest telescope — the European Extremely Large Telescope — will take a big step forward in 2012 now that early funding for the project has been secured.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) governing body approved the 2012 budget, which paves the way for preparatory work to begin at the planned site of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) at the Cerro Armazones mountain in the central part of Chile’s Atacama Desert.
The telescope, which represents a joint collaboration between 15 countries, will be the world’s largest ground-based optical telescope. Builders selected the observatory’s location in Chile because of the optimal weather conditions in the area, where skies are clear overhead roughly 320 nights of the year, ESO officials have said.
The E-ELT’s primary mirror will be a staggering 138 feet (42 meters) wide. For comparison, the Keck Observatory in Hawaii has a mirror that measures 33 feet (10 meters) wide, and the Subaru telescope, also in Hawaii, has a primary mirror that is 27 feet (8.2 m) wide.

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