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Lecture: The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)
Building the biggest optical telescope on earth
The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is currently under construction in the Atacama desert in northern Chile by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). With a primary mirror aperture of 39m, it will be the largest optical telescope on earth. We will briefly introduce the history and mission of ESO and explain how a modern optical telescope works.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1962 and is based in Garching bei München. It develops, builds and operates ground-based telescopes to enable astronomical research in the southern hemisphere and to foster cooperation in the international astronomical community. In 2012 the ESO Council approved the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) programme and its construction is scheduled for completion in 2028. The 39m primary mirror will make the ELT the largest optical telescope at that time.
It will be located on the top of Cerro Armazones, a ~3000m high mountain in the Atacama desert in Chile. This site provides ideal optical conditions, but also comes with logistical and engineering challenges.
We will walk you through the telescope and along the optical path to the instruments and explain some of the technologies involved to push the boundaries of ground-based optical astronomy.