News and Events

Astronomy Offers First Look at World's Largest Telescope

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November 2, 2006

Gainesville, FL- The UF Department of Astronomy is offering the community a preview of the world’s largest telescope set to open in early 2007 in the Canary Islands through a free public event, “Voyage with the Gran Telescopio Canarias,” on November 9, 5-9 p.m., at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“We think it’s important to give the community the opportunity to learn more about the exciting scientific projects and investigations we have planned with this new telescope,” said Astronomy Professor and event organizer Stephen Eikenberry. “The university’s partnership with Spain and Mexico to construct this world-class facility will have a major impact on our international reputation, which is a big boon not only for UF, but also for Gainesville and the state of Florida.”

The family-friendly event will feature a scale model of the Gran Telescopio Canarias, planetarium shows including special images of the telescope, an astronomer-led “universe walk”, astronomy art activities and star viewings. UF astronomers will also demonstrate the many research projects they have planned for the telescope through display tables and one-on-one discussions.

Two lectures will also be presented beginning at 7 p.m.: “Monsters of the Deep”—in which Eikenberry will discuss the department’s plans to utilize the telescope in its hunt for massive, “monster-size” stars—and “Looking Back to the Beginning of the Universe” by Rafael Guzmán, which will highlight the telescope’s ability to search deeper into space and therefore further back in universal history than modern science has yet experienced.

The Gran Telescopio Canarias, or “Great Telescope Canary Islands,” is a high performance segmented 10.4-meter mirror telescope being installed on one of the best sites in the Northern Hemisphere for astronomical viewing, the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Canary Islands. The project is a partnership between the government of Spain, several institutions in Mexico and the University of Florida. Construction is in the final stages and the first light ceremony is tentatively planned for July 2007.

Photos and graphics of the telescope can be accessed online at http://clasnews.clas.ufl.edu/tmp/photos/astro/astrodome/. More information on the November 9 event can be found at http://www.astro.ufl.edu/GTCNight/.

Credits

Contact

Stephen Eikenberry, Professor of Astronomy
(352) 392-2052, Ext. 260; eiken@ufl.edu

Writer

Buffy Lockette, CLAS News and Publications

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