World's largest optical scope to
be built in Hawai'i, will serve as a time machineThe world's largest optical telescope is going up in Hawaii.
The 30 meter telescope will be set up at the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea
volcano, and will see with greater detail than any modern optical telescope in
what the telescope-time machine will look like.KONA, HI (Catholic Online):
The summit of Mauna Kea will soon
feature a new dome and inside it, the world's largest optical telescope. Built
at a cost of $1 billion, it will allow astronomers to see how the universe
looked 13 billion years ago, just after its creation. In this sense, astronomers
are in fact building a time machine of sorts.
The telescope will have a
30 meter mirror, which will give it about nine times the power of the most
powerful optical telescope in existence. The size of the mirror matters. The
larger the mirror, the more light it can gather and thus the fainter the objects
are that can be seen.
The massive telescope will also permit astronomers
to see more detail, including individual planets around other stars.
approval to build the scope came last week and it was given amid protests from
Hawaiian natives and environmentalists who say the summit is sacred and is a
habitat for rare species including a type of seed bug. At 13,796 feet, few
organisms live on the summit.
The permit came with requirements that
employees be trained in culture and natural resources.
The summit of
Mauna Kea is high and cold, and often covered in snow. The altitude places the
scope above most clouds and its Pacific location keeps it free from most air
The scope should help astronomers unlock a great many
mysteries about the universe, and could even be used in observations that could
help detect life on other planets, if it exists.
While the scope will be
the world's largest optical instrument, it will not hold the title for long. Due
for imminent construction is the European Extremely Large Telescope, featuring a