World's Largest Telescope Opens its Eye in Canary Islands

gtc-testing-sm.jpgIt has taken seven years to construct, and at a cost of almost $180 million, but the Great Canary Telescope - now the world's largest stargazer - is up and running. Situated on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, off the African coast, the GTC is 4 per cent larger than the Keck telescopes at Mauna Kea, in Hawaii. Wanna look inside?c040714-02.jpgPerched atop a 2,400-meter peak on the island, the GCT's 34-ft wide mirror is made up of 36 separate mirrors, and its all-seeing eye will be trained on the skies in the hope of finding planets similar to ours, as well recording the birth of new stars and studying black holes.

Project manager is Pedro Alvarez. "The GCT will observe things that are so small, or so very far off, that only a small amount of light reaches us," he said. "It will also see closer objects that either do not emit their own light or emit very little light. You need the biggest possible light-collecting surface to be able to see them."

[GCT via Guardian Unlimited]