Friday, July 13, 2007

Giant telescope (GTC) set to scour skies

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One of the world's largest optical telescopes is set to peer into space for the first time.

Installed on a 2,400m-high (7,900ft) peak on the Canary Island of La Palma, the huge telescope consists of a mirror measuring 10.4m (34.1ft) in diameter.

The Spanish-led Great Canary Telescope (GTC) is extremely powerful and will be able to spot some of the faintest, most distant objects in the Universe.

The "first light" ceremony will take place on Friday. If the initial test run is successful, GTC's team expect it to be up and running for the scientific community within the next 12 months.

The enormous array has taken seven years to construct; its installation has been hampered by poor weather and the logistical difficulties of transporting equipment to such an inaccessible location. The project is estimated to cost 130m euros (£88m). Link

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