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Thursday January 19th 2012

World’s Biggest Telescope to be Located on Armazones, Chile

On 26 April 2010, the ESO Council selected Cerro Armazones as the baseline site for the planned 42-metre European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Cerro Armazones is a mountain at an altitude of 3060 metres in the central part of Chile’s Atacama Desert, some 130 kilometres south of the town of Antofagasta and about 20 kilometres from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope.

This is an important milestone that allows us to finalise the baseline design of this very ambitious project, which will vastly advance astronomical knowledge,” says Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General. “I thank the site selection team for the tremendous work they have done over the past few years.

ESO’s next step is to build a European extremely large optical/infrared telescope (E-ELT) with a primary mirror 42 metres in diameter. The E-ELT will be “the world’s biggest eye on the sky” — the only such telescope in the world. ESO is drawing up detailed construction plans together with the community. The E-ELT will address many of the most pressing unsolved questions in astronomy, and may, eventually, revolutionise our perception of the Universe, much as Galileo’s telescope did 400 years ago. The final go-ahead for construction is expected at the end of 2010, with the start of operations planned for 2018.

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