Construction commences on the world’s largest optical telescope

After years of planning and financial anxieties, construction began on the European Extremely Large Telescope on Friday. Once completed, it will be known as the world’s largest optical telescope, which is five times larger than the top observing instruments we are using today.

According to the backers, the size of the optical telescope comes with the potential of transforming our understanding of the universe, and with its main mirror, it will calculate some 39 meters (43 yards) across.

The ELT is situated on a 3,000 meter-high Mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert and is scheduled to start operating in 2024.

MORE THAN JUST A TELESCOPE

The optical telescope will help refining astronomers’ burgeoning discoveries of planets orbiting other stars. It will also help image larger planets, find smaller one, and likely characterize their atmosphere — a major step in understanding if there’s any presence of life.

“What is being raised here is more than a telescope. Here we see one of the greatest examples of the possibilities of science,” said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The reason behind choosing the Atacama for this project is its dry atmosphere offers as near-perfect observing conditions as it’s possible to find on Earth. 70 percent of the world’s astronomical infrastructure are planned to be situated in that region by the 2020s. The European Southern Observatory, the organizations consisting of European and southern hemisphere nations is funding the European Extremely Large Telescope.

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