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The last SF Instituters just left, and I'm winding down by catching up on my astro-news. I found a cool story about a huge telescope going into operation. This monster, perhaps the largest optical telescope in the world at 34 FEET in diameter, is now seeing its first light. Below is a photo of the observatory on a volcanic Spanish mountaintop:

Click the image to see the story.

Note that this will soon be a teeny little thing compared to the Very Large Telescope in Chile, composed of four separate mirrors (those would be VLTs 1-4, each more than 30 FEET in diameter) that will soon work as one 650-FOOT Ginormo-Scope. Just wow.

On a related note, here's a list of the world's largest optical telescopes.

Best,
Chris

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
desperance
Jul. 16th, 2007 02:02 pm (UTC)
I'm sure somebody's tried to explain it to me before, but I still don't understand how four 30-footers can equal one 650-footer. How is there more detail in four separate images than there is in one? Words of one syllable, please...
mckitterick
Jul. 16th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
interferometry
Heh. One way this works is by digitally or optically combining the images each telescope captures at the same time into a single image. This creates a simulated resolving power (the detail such an image can see) of a telescope with the diameter of the outside edge of the telescope mirror plus the distance between them.

Here, I'll make a new post about this. Done!
desperance
Jul. 16th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
Re: interferometry
Thank you!
renegade500
Jul. 16th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
Shame on me, but I didn't realize that the McDonald Observatory in West Texas (UT's telescope) was so large.

So, is there really very little risk to building a large telescope on a volcanic mountaintop?
mckitterick
Jul. 16th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
I wondered the same thing about the volcanic location....
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )