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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the largest visible-light and infrared telescopes in operation today
  • Discuss the factors relevant to choosing an appropriate telescope site
  • Define the technique of adaptive optics and describe the effects of the atmosphere on astronomical observations

Since Newton’s time, when the sizes of the mirrors in telescopes were measured in inches, reflecting telescopes have grown ever larger. In 1948, US astronomers built a telescope with a 5-meter (200-inch) diameter mirror on Palomar Mountain in Southern California. It remained the largest visible-light telescope in the world for several decades. The giants of today, however, have primary mirrors (the largest mirrors in the telescope) that are 8- to 10-meters in diameter, and larger ones are being built ( [link] ).

Large telescope mirror.

Photograph of one of the 8-meter concave primary mirrors of the European Space Agency’s Very Large Telescope array in Chile.
This image shows one of the primary mirrors of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, named Yepun, just after it was recoated with aluminum. The mirror is a little over 8 meters in diameter. (credit: ESO/G. Huedepohl)

Modern visible-light and infrared telescopes

The decades starting in 1990 saw telescope building around the globe grow at an unprecedented rate. (See [link] , which also includes websites for each telescope in case you want to visit or learn more about them.) Technological advancements had finally made it possible to build telescopes significantly larger than the 5-meter telescope at Palomar at a reasonable cost. New technologies have also been designed to work well in the infrared, and not just visible, wavelengths.

Large Single-Dish Visible-Light and Infrared Telescopes
Aperture (m) Telescope Name Location Status Website
39 European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Cerro Armazonas, Chile First light 2025 (estimated) www.eso.org/sci/facilities/eelt
30 Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) Mauna Kea, HI First light 2025 (estimated) www.tmt.org
24.5 Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Las Campanas Observatory, Chile First light 2025 (estimated) www.gmto.org
11.1 × 9.9 Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Sutherland, South Africa 2005 www.salt.ac.za
10.4 Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) La Palma, Canary Islands First light 2007 http://www.gtc.iac.es
10.0 Keck I and II (two telescopes) Mauna Kea, HI Completed 1993–96 www.keckobservatory.org
9.1 Hobby–Eberly Telescope (HET) Mount Locke, TX Completed 1997 www.as.utexas.edu/mcdonald/het
8.4 Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) (two telescopes) Mount Graham, AZ First light 2004 www.lbto.org
8.4 Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) The Cerro Pachón, Chile First light 2021 www.lsst.org
8.3 Subaru Telescope Mauna Kea, HI First light 1998 www.naoj.org
8.2 Very Large Telescope (VLT) Cerro Paranal, Chile All four telescopes completed 2000 www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal
8.1 Gemini North and Gemini South Mauna Kea, HI (North) and Cerro Pachón, Chile (South) First light 1999 (North), First light 2000 (South) www.gemini.edu
6.5 Magellan Telescopes (two telescopes: Baade and Landon Clay) Las Campanas, Chile First light 2000 and 2002 obs.carnegiescience.edu/Magellan
6.5 Multi-Mirror Telescope (MMT) Mount Hopkins, AZ Completed 1979 www.mmto.org
6.0 Big Telescope Altazimuth (BTA-6) Mount Pastukhov, Russia Completed 1976 w0.sao.ru/Doc-en/Telescopes/bta/descrip.html
5.1 Hale Telescope Mount Palomar, CA Completed 1948 www.astro.caltech.edu/palomar/about/telescopes/hale.html

Questions & Answers

what is time
Abdul Reply
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
how to put E=MC2
Gospel Reply
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By "How To Put E=MC2?
Adam
yep
Gospel
Hi guys
Samuel
i mean how NASA came to know the mass and diameters of Stars.how?
Gospel
how did they do using E=MC2
Gospel
thats my questioning
Gospel
that's easy formula's derivation
Madhav
why all planets revolving orbits are nearly in equal inclination?
Kartik Reply
***medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/ask-ethan-82-why-are-the-planets-all-in-the-same-plane-4470245c8743
rishabh
dependent on the mass
Madhav
no
Janak
I think because of the Suns gravity pull ,😕😕
Samuel
Samuel,. it's but obvious
Madhav
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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