2010/04/27

E-ELT goes to Chile

E-ELT goes to Chile April 27, 2010

Posted by sarah in: astronomy, politics , trackback

As expected, ESO Council have accepted the recommendation to build the European Extremely Large Telescope at Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Andes. The decision was announced yesterday with the customary nice words and some cool accompanying imagery, video and a dedicated ESOCast episode, which you can all see here.

Particularly noteworthy is the nod of thanks ESO give to Spain, who were competing with Chile for the chance to to host the telescope. While many European astronomers, especially the Britons who’ve traditionally had the largest foreign presence on the island, have a great big soft spot for La Palma, I think a collective sigh of relief went through the community on hearing the news. La Palma is undoubtedly an excellent observing site, but it’s just not of the same quality as Paranal or Armazones – it’s more humid, has fewer clear nights and is plagued by Saharan sand in its atmosphere. For METIS, the mid-infrared instrument I’ve been working on here  in the Netherlands, an E-ELT on La Palma would have severely jeopardised, if not killed, the project. The conditions on the island for mid-infrared astronomy just aren’t good enough to warrant the large investment.

With this announcement, all three of the ELT-type telescopes  – E-ELT, GMT and TMT – now have a home. Now all they need is money to start building!

Image: ESO/S. Brunier

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