In the vein of “go big or go home,” the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has launched a stunning new website to showcase information about — and match the scale of — its Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the highly anticipated observatory scheduled to have first light in 2025.
The new website is well-designed and contains a plethora of details and images about the new telescope, its instruments, and how it will further our knowledge of the cosmos.
The ELT should see first light in 2024. This illustration shows the scale of the telescope, and also shows its segmented primary mirror, which is 39.3-metres in diameter (130-foot). Image Credit: ESO
The Extremely Large Telescope will be the world’s largest optical/near-infrared telescope. It is under construction on top of a mountain named Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
ELT will consist of a reflecting telescope with a 39.3-meter-diameter (130-foot) segmented primary mirror, with 798 hexagonal elements that all work together. It also has a 4.2 m (14 ft) diameter secondary mirror. The observatory aims to gather 100 million times more light than the human eye, 13 times more light than the largest optical telescopes, and be able to correct for atmospheric distortion adaptive optics, eight laser guide star units and multiple science instruments.
The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the biggest ‘eye on the sky’ when it achieves first light later this decade. The telescope uses lasers as ‘guide stars’ to measure how much the light is distorted by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The deformable M4 mirror adjusts its shape in real time to compensate for these changes in the atmosphere, helping the ELT produce images 16 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: ESO
The website takes a look at some of the scientific questions that astronomers hope the ELT will answer, features interesting facts about the ELT, discusses some of the history behind the ELT and shows a timeline for development of the telescope.
From the press release:
Each page of the website has been carefully arranged so that users encounter the most general information first: from reading the text at the top of each page, they can easily gain a broad understanding of the ELT, including overviews about its individual components, instruments and science cases. For more detailed or technical information, the user can simply scroll down to the bottom of the page, where the more specific details about the project — likely to be of most interest to astronomers and engineers — are presented.
Check out the new website, and below is a video trailer highlighting the ELT.