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Seeing Stars at the Gator Jamboree

Thousands of sports fans received an education on the University of Florida’s world-renowned astronomy program before the Florida Gators faced off against the Michigan Wolverines at the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day.

During the pre-game Fanfest Gator Jamboree, a mobile tradeshow highlighted some of UF’s top inventions and research projects—including a model of the world’s largest telescope, which is being constructed in the Canary Islands by UF’s Department of Astronomy and institutions in Spain and Mexico.

Gran Telescopio Canarias, or “Great Telescope Canary Islands,” is a high-performance, segmented 10.4-meter mirror telescope that is 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 $175 million behemoth, under development for the past seven years, took its first peek into the heavens in July 2007. It is set to open in summer 2008.

Members of the press, UF alumni and donors, and football enthusiasts alike were impressed to learn the telescope will have the capacity to “view the thin side of a dime from two miles away.” Other UF inventions on display included Gatorade, Temperature Management System (TMS) shoulder pads, and the self-driving “NaviGator” vehicle.

To upload your own photos of the Capital One Bowl festivities, please visit gogatornation.com. For detailed game information, visit gatorzone.com.

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Buffy Lockette

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