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Astronomy's New Grail: The $1 Billion Telescope
The NY Times ^ | 123003 | DENNIS OVERBYE

Posted on 12/30/2003 12:22:54 PM PST by Archangelsk

December 30, 2003 Astronomy's New Grail: The $1 Billion Telescope By DENNIS OVERBYE

n the quest for some understanding of our twinkling existence, astronomers have built ever larger telescopes capable of catching and pooling the rare light of remote stars and galaxies.

Over the decades the torch of awe has been passed from mountaintop to mountaintop, from Mount Wilson, from where the expansion of the universe was discovered, to Palomar, home of the famous 200-inch reflector, which reigned supreme for almost half a century, to the cinder cones of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, where the twin 400-inch-diameter Keck Telescopes lord it over 13 others.

And even to space, where the Hubble Space Telescope is a peerless time machine.

Now the torch may be passed again.

Emboldened by the advances of the last two decades, groups of universities, observatories, nations and other research organizations are pondering plans for radical new telescopes that will dwarf even the giants on Mauna Kea and reach even farther into space and further back in time.

The proposals sport Brobdingnagian names like the California Extremely Large Telescope, or CELT; Giant Magellan; or the Overwhelming Large Telescope, OWL, a 100-meter-diameter behemoth being contemplated by a collaboration of European nations. And their proponents promise appropriately outsized scientific results.

The new telescopes, they say, will be able to deliver images sharper than the Hubble's, while gathering much more light, bringing into focus the blobs of primeval stars and gas from which galaxies were assembling themselves 10 billion years ago, or glimpses of planets around distant stars.

"With such a telescope you can for the first time really trace the connections between the first seconds of the Big Bang and the formation of life in the universe," said Dr. Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, director of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.

Astronomers say such a telescope will be needed to follow up and investigate the discoveries of the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for a 2011 launching, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, a radio telescope being built by the United States and Europe in Chile. In a report published in 2000, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences ranked a 30-meter telescope first on a wish list of new instruments for the coming decade.

But such a telescope also comes with a Brobdingnagian price tag — roughly a billion dollars to build, equip and operate for 20 years. That is more than the most recent generation of large telescopes cost altogether, according to a survey in Physics Today.

"We are really going to have a hard time building even one of these," said Dr. Richard Ellis, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, and one of the leaders of the effort to build the California telescope. Paying for such a telescope will require a merger of private and public sources of financing that is rare in astronomy, he said. Many large ground-based innovative telescopes in the United States, like Palomar and the Kecks have been built by private observatories and universities — not the taxpayer.

Dr. Ellis and his colleagues at Caltech and the University of California working on the California telescope have taken the first steps into this new era. This year the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy, or AURA, agreed to join the California effort, which was renamed the 30-Meter Telescope. Subsequently the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation granted Caltech and California $17.5 million each to help pay the cost of designing the telescope. AURA, which has no money of its own, has applied to the National Science Foundation for its share of the design cost.

But the 30-Meter Telescope has competitors, in particular the Giant Magellan, an effort led by the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif., to build a 20-meter telescope in Chile.

AURA is a consortium of 36 educational and other institutions, which operates a network of national observatories for American astronomers. In an interview, the consortium president, Dr. William Smith, said it was important to move ahead in order to have a telescope by the time the Webb telescope was launched.

But the consortium's move to join the California effort dismayed some of its members, some of them involved in rival projects. They say that it is too soon to know yet what is involved in building a giant telescope or what is at stake scientifically in choosing one design over another.

In a letter to the National Science Foundation, 18 astronomers said in November that the agreement between AURA and CELT "may violate the principle of open competition." They included Dr. Peter Strittmatter, director of the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory; Dr. Irwin Shapiro, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; and Dr. Wendy Freedman, director of the Carnegie Obseratories. They urged the science foundation to hold an open competition to develop the best strategy for a giant telescope.

Dr. Michael Turner, the foundation's assistant director for mathematics and physical sciences, said all options were still open.

In statements and at meetings recently, he and Dr. Wayne Van Citters, director of astronomical sciences at the science foundation, have been circumspect, emphasizing the need for strategic planning before locking in a specific design. "The science that a Really Big Telescope can do has everyone excited," Dr. Turner said in an e-mail message. "We just have to figure out the best way to get there."

The road once ended at Palomar.

Palomar's Hale reflector, finished in 1948, was long considered the limit for ground-based telescopes. Bigger mirrors would just be too heavy.

But in the 1990's, technological advances made it possible to build thin, lightweight mirrors as large as 8 meters (about 26 feet) in diameter that relied on computer adjusted supports to keep the mirrors from sagging under their own weight.

The largest of the new breed were the Kecks, built by Caltech and California on Mauna Kea. Instead of being monolithic slabs of glass, their 10-meter-diameter mirrors are composed of 36 small hexagons warped and fitted together. The design was the brainchild of Dr. Jerry Nelson, a former particle physicist at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The first Keck went into operation in 1993. By the end of the decade Dr. Ellis and his colleagues had already begun to study how to scale up the Keck idea. Last year they published a 300-page "conceptual design" for a 30-meter telescope with a mirror made of some thousand hexagons.

The new Moore Foundation grant, he said, will enable the California group to refine their design and study the trade-offs between size, cost and performance of a telescope.

In the meantime, they have also begun testing sites for the telescope in Chile; Baja, Mexico; and Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Only when the design is finished, will the 30-Meter partners, which Dr. Ellis hopes will soon include the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, or Acura, be able to decide whether to proceed with building the telescope and with raising the serious money it will require.

With no "hiccups," Dr. Ellis said, the telescope could be ready in 2012.

While the California telescope will consist of many small pieces, the 20-meter Giant Magellan is to have only a few very large ones. Its main mirror will have only six circular segments surrounding a central one.

The project grew out of the twin 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes that have recently been built at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile by a partnership that includes the Universities of Michigan and Arizona, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as Carnegie.

The plan capitalizes on the expertise of Dr. Roger Angel and his colleagues at the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona, who have mastered the art of casting giant mirror blanks in a rotating furnace and then polishing them into shape. Each of the seven mirror segments is to be 8.4 meters in diameter, which is the biggest size his furnace can handle.

The telescope could be ready by 2015, if all goes well, the Magellan partners say.

Dr. Freedman, Carnegie's director, said she was optimistic that there would be resources and room on the planet for both the 30-Meter and the Giant Magellan, and that they could complement each other.

"We're all moving forward," she said after a recent meeting on telescopes at the National Academy of Sciences in Irvine, Calif. "We will succeed because the science is exciting."

Looming over these and other efforts is the prospect of a European giant.

That is the 100-meter Overwhelmingly Large Telescope contemplated by the European Southern Observatory, a multinational consortium that operates the world's largest array, the Very Large Telescope, on Cerro Paranal in Chile.

Dr. Robert Gilmozzi, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, said 100 meters was the minimum size needed to peruse Earth-like planets around nearby stars for signs of life.

The mirror for the proposed telescope has a novel spherical design that will allow it to be enlarged, or built in stages, said Dr. Guy Monnet, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory and the project manager for OWL.

This means, Dr. Monnet said, that every segment of the primary mirror will be identical, simplifying the construction. It also means that the the European Southern astronomers can build a 60-meter telescope and see if it works, and then expand the mirror by filling out the sphere with more segments to make a 100-meter telescope. Such a telescope will be more likely if Americans participate, he added.

In order to realize their full potential the new telescopes will have to make maximum use of a new technology that undoes the blurring effects of the atmosphere.

In principle the resolving power of a telescope depends on its diameter — a bigger one can see finer detail — but in practice atmospheric turbulence, the same effect that makes stars appear to twinkle, blurs the stars and erases fine detail. This is why the Hubble, even though it is not large, only about 2.4 meters (96 inches), compared with the new giants on the ground, can do breathtaking work.

Lately astronomers have begun to learn how to tune out some of the blurring by monitoring the image of a bright star near the target of observation and continually adjusting a mirror inside the telescope. But these so-called "adaptive optics" systems have been added after the fact to existing telescopes.

The new big telescopes will be the first telescopes to have adaptive optics built in from the start, Dr. Ellis said.

What can you see with such a telescope?

Extraterrestrial planets are on the top of many astronomers' lists.

In the last decade more than 100 planets have been detected around nearby stars by their gravitational effects. These have all been very massive objects, at least as big as Jupiter, but the discoveries have fueled hopes that full-fledged systems with planets more like Earth, possible abodes of life, may eventually be found.

A giant mirror that could focus starlight into the smallest tiny point would be particularly well-suited to detecting planets. Masking out the bright star might bring the much fainter light of a planet otherwise lost in the glare.

Most of these would be the Jupiter-size planets, but Dr. Angel said 20- or 30-meter telescopes could be on the threshold of being able to detect Earth-like planets. A 100-meter telescope, with another tenfold increase in light-gathering power and even sharper images, he said, would be "extremely powerful." It would allow spectroscopy of Earth-like planets, he said, allowing astronomers to examine its atmosphere and perhaps rudimentary signs of life.

At the other end of creation, a really big telescope will be able to study what happened about 11 billion or 12 billion years ago when the universe was undergoing a rush of construction. Clouds of gas and dust collapsed and lit up as stars, which in turn began to transform the universe from primordial hydrogen and helium into the rich mix of elements like carbon and oxygen that have seeded life and wonder today. Meanwhile, clusters of stars were condensing into the first gawky-looking galaxies, ancestors of the milky spirals and bulging smooth clouds that now rule space.

But, Dr. Patrick McCarthy of Carnegie explained, "a large telescope will be able to see all the bits and pieces that coalesce into galaxies. That's where the physics is."



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; magellan; owl; telescope
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This will be hugh. And not a moment too soon say I.
1 posted on 12/30/2003 12:22:54 PM PST by Archangelsk
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To: Archangelsk
OWL is dream ware. It will never get built.
2 posted on 12/30/2003 12:27:55 PM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: Archangelsk
OWL is dream ware. It will never get built.
3 posted on 12/30/2003 12:27:59 PM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: CasearianDaoist
Nor will we put a man on the moon. /sarcasm
4 posted on 12/30/2003 12:29:38 PM PST by Archangelsk (CPL AMEL ASEL I)
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To: Archangelsk
And

Man can never travel over 50 mph. It would rip him apart.

5 posted on 12/30/2003 12:34:58 PM PST by ASA Vet (Having achieved Nibbana, what can I do next?)
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To: Archangelsk
A billion dollars, including 20 years of operation? That's dirt cheap compared to Hubble.

But hold: here come the science-haters to vent their spleens.

6 posted on 12/30/2003 12:36:57 PM PST by Physicist
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To: Archangelsk
But with so many different telescopes competing against one another, deciding which one to support is a series problem.

d.o.l.

Criminal Number 18F
7 posted on 12/30/2003 12:38:39 PM PST by Criminal Number 18F
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To: Archangelsk
Heck, for only a billion dollars, Bill Gates oughta shell out the money for one of these things. Could even name it "Heavens Gates" or somethin silly like that..
8 posted on 12/30/2003 12:39:28 PM PST by Paradox (Cogito ergo boom.)
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To: Archangelsk
That is the 100-meter Overwhelmingly Large Telescope contemplated by the European Southern Observatory

LOL. 100 meters. Billion dollars.

I'm just trying to find a decent 80mm refractor for cheap so I can look at Saturn's rings ;-)

9 posted on 12/30/2003 12:41:29 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: Physicist
Two projects well worth funding: this 'largest optical instrument' and a thorough survey of earth-orbit crossing meteors in the size range of 100 meters or more.
10 posted on 12/30/2003 12:45:59 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: Prodigal Son
decent 80mm refractor for cheap

See here's your problem: you have three requirements here.


11 posted on 12/30/2003 1:01:51 PM PST by petuniasevan (Of course it's half eaten. You said you wanted the chef's salad.)
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To: *crevo_list; VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; ...
Lookin' at you, kid. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
12 posted on 12/30/2003 1:15:31 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Hic amor, haec patria est.)
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To: Prodigal Son
"I'm just trying to find a decent 80mm refractor for cheap so I can look at Saturn's rings ;-)"

I got me a cheap pair of binoculars so I could look at Uranus. ;-)

13 posted on 12/30/2003 1:24:23 PM PST by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: Archangelsk
Close, we will put telescopes on the moon.

OWL is about one-upping the Americans - not good science, scientific programs, facilities or institutions. The trend is towards cheaper scopes as their useful life gets shorter and shorter. Better to build one quickly to solve problems for say 7 to 10 years and incrementally better technology in the processes. Keck, wonder that is, will be obsolete by the end of the decade - maybe a little longer if they can squeeze a little more out of adaptive optics. It is close to obsolete now. We probably spent too much money on this facility.

The European Southern Observatory, the people proposing OWL, is a case and point. Their Very Large Telescope (VLT), which is actually a aggregation of 4 8.5 meter scopes in an active optics, imferometer arrangement, was planned 20 years ago, It will be that largest of its kind in the world and 1) they are having real troubles with the technology, and 2) it is already obsolete. Hubble in fact obsoleted it, and the CELT with good adaptive optics, and if it is designed to add large scopes later, most certainly will. The VLTI at the ESO was supposed to be finished this year and it is still not completely online and when one inquires about it one just get the ring-aroung from the ESO on real completion dates.

If you forget wavelength the J. Webb space telescope will even obsolete the ESA's Herschel space telescope, which is perhaps the only original project the ESA has ever thought up. Thus between the recent Spitzer and the JWSP the Herschel will have a leader role for only three years. Hardly worth the years of planning and the budgets. The ESO sank millions into the VLT as a flagship program to one up the Americans. They really backed the wrong horse. If built OWL will eat up their entire astronomy budget for more that a decade. To put that in perspective, the annual Federal non-DOD research budget for all astronomy in the US is roughly 170 mil, which by far the largest in the world. To build OWL would pretty much mean that all other EU funded astronomy work would cease. They would also have to finish and maintain the the VLT and their end of ALMA (they are last with there recieves at ALMA, BTW)

They may think that once again that the US will step in and help them like we have at cern, nasa and ITER. Now if the negotioations for Iter are any indication, the era of the US playing patsy for "joint" projects may be drawing to a close. Sinking a billion dollars into a telescope that has a useful life of less than 10 years does not make sense from scientific point of view. Once again the Euros grab onto some science project and try to augment the last technical solution. And they have no experience even in the sort of optics that Keck uses. We are going through a revolution in instruments that is really unprecedented in history: OWL is the answer to the worng question.

There are immense problems with something this large, the heat of the earth and gravity itself pose huge problems. So back to my original statement: the Euros will not be able to afford it and they will not be able to do it. Meanwhile we will plod ahead making incremental changes justas we have always done. CELT, or something very like it will be a huge success, it will be expanded and you will see a environment much like the Hubble/Keck/VLA triad only it will be J. Webb Space Telescope/ALMA/CELT. After these the next generation it will all move off-world. Through it all the Euros will be solving yesterdays problem and left once again holding the bag. That is because they are not interested in science but in poking us in the eye.

This is like their Aurura (sp?) project which proposes to go to Mars on a budget that is around an dorder of magnitude less than our entire NASA/DOD budget. It is loony. Thet should stick with CERN and see if they can get a result out of "large science" there. The Euros are in a time warp.

14 posted on 12/30/2003 1:36:07 PM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: Archangelsk
I'm looking forward to the Next Generation Space Telescope. 8 meters aperture and orbiting 100,000 miles out. Then we'll see some things.
15 posted on 12/30/2003 1:37:17 PM PST by Batrachian
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To: Paradox
Haha...complete with mass suicides?
16 posted on 12/30/2003 1:39:51 PM PST by July 4th (George W. Bush, Avenger of the Bones)
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To: Physicist
The hubble did not cost near a billion, and that figure from the ESO does not include operations. This is a huge budget for a telescope. That is why it will bever happen (see my comment above.)
17 posted on 12/30/2003 1:41:52 PM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: Prodigal Son
I was so impressed with the quality of the new Chinese-made Maksutov-Cassegrains, I went out and got one for Mars last August. It did a pretty good job, considering Mars is a total pain to observe sometimes.
18 posted on 12/30/2003 1:42:19 PM PST by July 4th (George W. Bush, Avenger of the Bones)
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To: Archangelsk
The new telescopes, they say, will be able to deliver images sharper than the Hubble's, while gathering much more light, bringing into focus the blobs of primeval stars and gas from which galaxies were assembling themselves 10 billion years ago, or glimpses of planets around distant stars.

And lots of embarrassing things like Markarian 205.
19 posted on 12/30/2003 1:46:34 PM PST by aruanan
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To: Physicist
dirt cheap

Indeed, but who knows what optical telescope design will be like in 10 years or where the telescopes will be located when they are built. Ground-based optical-band astronomers are getting good results now, comparable to Hubble, and probably they are riding a tide of optimism and good publicity. The most huge advances, though are coming at new wavelengths all up and down the spectrum, and those wavelengths require absence of atmosphere. Adaptive optics extended the lifetime of ground-based instruments, but telescopes in space represent the direction we will take. $1 billion? Hah!

20 posted on 12/30/2003 1:48:37 PM PST by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale
Sww reply #14
21 posted on 12/30/2003 1:50:02 PM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: RightWhale
Sww = See
22 posted on 12/30/2003 1:52:33 PM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: Criminal Number 18F
Politicians love this sort of thing, if and only if the scientists all get on the same page about what they want. If they fight, the pols will watch politely but do nothing. If they can agree, the pols will happily write the check. There is no better use of public funding, of anything. And the price tag is moderate by public standards.
23 posted on 12/30/2003 1:52:47 PM PST by JasonC
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To: Physicist
A billion dollars, including 20 years of operation? That's dirt cheap compared to Hubble.

Let's build OWL and put people on the moon to build the OWL equivalent there. We could do some interesting interferometry with a 240,000 mile baseline.
24 posted on 12/30/2003 1:54:57 PM PST by aruanan
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To: PatrickHenry
Thanks for the ping!
25 posted on 12/30/2003 1:57:50 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Physicist
But hold: here come the science-haters to vent their spleens.

I've toured the Mirror Lab at UA/Tucson, where these 8.4m mirrors are made. When a new mirror leaves the facility, it has to be taken out at after hours, under guard, at a random unpblicized time of day. The precautions are taken to avoid attack by Green terrorists, who have taken to hating astronomy as much as nuclear power or genetic engineering.

26 posted on 12/30/2003 2:16:26 PM PST by BlazingArizona
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To: Archangelsk
This would be a total waste of money, resources, and is judt nor needed in this day and time! There are far more importaant issues on the table, then looking into the stars, when we have Hubble! What a total waste of our dollars!!!!
27 posted on 12/30/2003 2:26:07 PM PST by ibtheman
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To: BlazingArizona
to avoid attack by Green terrorists

The Greens or somebody are acting like Luddites. We had a man who did nothing but grind secondary mirrors for big scopes. Seems, like welding, either you can do it or you can't, and he could, one of a small group of one in the country who could do a particular operation. He said, "You can't push glass." That's all he ever said, didn't talk at all. If a Green terrorist had tried something with one of this man's mirrors, . . . (shudder to think.)

28 posted on 12/30/2003 2:27:14 PM PST by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: petuniasevan; Prodigal Son
Orion has a 90mm MAK for around a couple of hundred. More if you go for the equatorial mount.
29 posted on 12/30/2003 2:34:52 PM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: ibtheman; Physicist; Criminal Number 18F
And the screeds start.
30 posted on 12/30/2003 3:17:03 PM PST by Archangelsk (CPL AMEL ASEL I)
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To: petuniasevan
See here's your problem: you have three requirements here.

Ach, it's not a problem. There is always somebody out there that went out and bought himself a Meade and then decided he didn't really like looking at the stars in the first place and just wants to sell the thing. A lot of grown men who have more money than they know how to properly spend have closets full of 'toys' like this. There's a lot of Meade 60mm scopes around here at the moment for around $100. I haven't seen any 80mm yet. I would buy something bigger- one of those nice 10" computerized Schmidt Cassegrains would be nice- but I move around too much to make it worth it. Maybe when I settle down...

I could buy a really cheap one, I suppose, but I do want a good look with whatever I do get. The local astronomy club meets every Friday here but the problem is, you can plan on Friday happening in Scotland or you can reckon you'll get a clear night every once in a while but planning for a clear Friday is pretty low percentage ;-)

31 posted on 12/30/2003 3:42:05 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: Calvin Locke
Orion has a 90mm MAK for around a couple of hundred.

200 pounds or dollars? If dollars- that would be pretty cool. I haven't seen any Orions in Edinburgh. Don't need an equatorial- an alt/az would be just fine.

32 posted on 12/30/2003 3:44:32 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: RadioAstronomer; ThinkPlease; edwin hubble
up your alley ping
33 posted on 12/30/2003 4:41:13 PM PST by longshadow
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To: Physicist
Europeans want to build a 100m "Giant" telescope.... hmmmmm; sounds vaguely familiar. Does "the Great telescope" (which was never built) ring any bells?
34 posted on 12/30/2003 4:42:59 PM PST by longshadow
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To: Archangelsk
This may sound whimsical, but I am of the opinion that if a 100 meter telescope is ever built, the moon is the only location for it. No "adaptive" lenses and electronics necessary.
35 posted on 12/30/2003 4:46:17 PM PST by Publius6961 (40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: CasearianDaoist
The hubble did not cost near a billion,

How much does Hubble cost?

Initially Hubble cost $1.5 billion to build and put into orbit.

Hubble's total budget in one year is in the range $230-250 million. That money does more than simply keep Hubble operating on a daily basis. In addition to operational costs, the total dollar figure includes funds for scientific data analysis, as well as for the development of future hardware and its associated software.

The concept of servicing Hubble to upgrade its instruments rather than launching a whole new telescope has saved billions of dollars.

That's from http://hubble.nasa.gov/faq.html. It is not a final figure, either, because it doesn't count the cost of the servicing missions. Honestly counted, each shuttle mission costs a billion dollars just for the flight alone (up and down, mission not included).

All told, HST will end up costing closer to 10 billion dollars, rather than $1 billion...and it has been darn well worth it.

and that figure from the ESO does not include operations.

From the article:

But such a telescope also comes with a Brobdingnagian price tag — roughly a billion dollars to build, equip and operate for 20 years.

36 posted on 12/30/2003 4:46:28 PM PST by Physicist
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To: BlazingArizona
The precautions are taken to avoid attack by Green terrorists, who have taken to hating astronomy as much as nuclear power or genetic engineering.

It's only a matter of time before we are convinced of the necessity to start shooting these subhumans.

37 posted on 12/30/2003 4:51:51 PM PST by Publius6961 (40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: ibtheman
Well... we already spend enough on grammar and spelling books. Or so I thought. Hmmmmmmm.
38 posted on 12/30/2003 4:53:17 PM PST by Publius6961 (40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: Prodigal Son
This place sells cheap 4.5" Dobsonian mount reflectors for $100. It was so cheap I had to buy one, I was surprised at the quality. Definitely a great price for that much aperture.

Hardin Optical

They include a set of 3 eyepieces, one high quality eyepiece.

39 posted on 12/30/2003 5:00:56 PM PST by Brett66
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To: BlazingArizona
Why would greenies care about astronomy, it's totally passive, doesn't even create noise pollution. Oh yeah..... they're insane.
40 posted on 12/30/2003 5:03:20 PM PST by Brett66
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To: Prodigal Son
Oops, price increase to $219. Go to www.telescope.com

Don't know about non-US availability.

I got the 130mm reflector just about a year ago.

41 posted on 12/30/2003 5:26:37 PM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: Brett66
This place sells cheap 4.5" Dobsonian mount reflectors for $100. It was so cheap I had to buy one,

You looked at Saturn with it? Like, lately? Would appreciate some feedback if you have.

42 posted on 12/30/2003 5:30:28 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: Calvin Locke
Could I ask you the same question? Have you looked at Saturn with it? You have any feedback at all?
43 posted on 12/30/2003 5:31:21 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: Prodigal Son
I haven't looked at Saturn yet, I bought it for looking at Mars back in August. I could make out the polar cap and Vallis Marineras on Mars with it. I know the Cassini division could easily resolve with a 4.5" primary.
44 posted on 12/30/2003 5:33:41 PM PST by Brett66
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To: Brett66
Well, your best view of Saturn until 2030 is tomorrow night ;-)

If you take a look at it any time soon, let me know how it went.

45 posted on 12/30/2003 5:42:07 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: Calvin Locke
An eBay search for "telescope" produces over 2,000 items for sale. Gotta be something there for just about anyone who's looking. If not this week, then maybe the next.
46 posted on 12/30/2003 6:29:38 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Hic amor, haec patria est.)
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To: PatrickHenry
An eBay search for "telescope" produces over 2,000 items for sale.

yes, but unfortunately, most of them refer to a type of "marital aid"...

47 posted on 12/30/2003 6:33:38 PM PST by longshadow
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To: longshadow
... most of them refer to a type of "marital aid".

Even better!

48 posted on 12/30/2003 6:37:56 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Hic amor, haec patria est.)
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To: Archangelsk
I'm a little skeptical that a 100-meter telescope will be built any time soon.

First of all, our biggest telescope (10-meter Keck) is four times larger than Palomar (twice the diameter = four times the area).

Second, the larger aperture is only useful if you can get diffraction limited images. Adaptive/active optics is fine, but only over a limited field of view. The isothermal patch above the telescope is only so large (roughly 4-m in diameter), so you would need advanced adaptive optics and multiple guide stars to correct a 100-meter telescope.

I vote that if we do build such a large beast, build it in 1-meter segments on the moon.

MD
49 posted on 12/30/2003 7:22:03 PM PST by MikeD (Why yes, I AM a rocket scientist!)
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To: Prodigal Son
I don't think I have enough time with it to give an informed opinion.

This is my first reflector/first equatorial mount, so there is a learning curve, not only in finding objects, but finding
them AND being comfortable while viewing.

Throw in the higher magnifications, Earth's rotation, etc, and it can be frustrating.

I went cheap. The GOTO scopes are worth considering for getting a lot of objects in a short amount of time.

I don't think I was successful with Saturn because of TOD/or weather, but Jupiter is a snap. I generally see the milky
view, with some of the moons as points.

Take a gander at http://home.inreach.com/starlord/
It's a Telescope Buyers FAQ for a starting point.

50 posted on 12/30/2003 7:36:38 PM PST by Calvin Locke
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