Posted by: Terra the Terrestrial Tiger | August 20, 2012

Terra-fic Telescopes! (Southwest Tour Part 2 )

Its Terra the Terrestrial Tiger to tell you about more of the Terra-fic (terrific) telescopes that the grad students and I got to see. The second leg of our trip was to Mount Graham International Observatory, which is operated by Steward Observatory. It is like a mini-village of telescopes on this mountain, complete with a rare species of Mount Graham squirrels! The first telescope we toured was the VATT, which stands for Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope. Miss Rachael uses this telescope a lot, you should ask her about it the next chance you get! Next, we saw the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope or the SMT, which we got a pretty cool tour of.

A group picture of the astronomy graduate students, featuring me Terra the Terrestrial Tiger, in front of the SMT.

Terra posed in front of the SMT with the doors open, so you can actually see the dish!

Do you know the which telescope is the world’s most powerful? It is the LBT (Large Binocular Telescope) which is made up of two 8.4m

Miss Kim and I in front of only one of the two mirrors of the Large Binocular Telescope.

telescopes. The two mirrors combined have the largest light collecting area! And we got to visit it on Mount Graham! One of the most surprising things is that because the LBT is so well engineered and oiled, it hardly makes any noise when it moves.

All of us in front of the LBT. This photo was taken with a very special lens, called a fish-eye lens, that distorts the picture so that everything fits into it. The mirror is much bigger than it looks!

Lastly, one of the coolest things that Miss Kim has ever seen, was the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. Ok, this wasn’t on the mountain, but still part of the same group, right? This is where most modern mirrors are made for telescopes, including those huge 8.4m mirrors on the LBT! They are really hard to make in just the right shape without any imperfections.

Terra the Terrestrial Tiger at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. The giant red contraption is what holds and moves the mirrors around as they make them. The mirrors can be as big as 8.4m in diameter and if you look really carefully, you can see that one mirror (the white thing) is hanging on its side!

This is some of science at its best.


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