Future Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea

The Keck-2 telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii proj...

Image via Wikipedia

This is probably old news by now for some folks here, but Hawaii‘s Board of Land and Natural Resources recently granted the University of Hawaii the permit to build its planned 30 meter telescope on the North plateau of Mauna Kea.

For those of you unfamiliar with big telescope technology, 30 meters is huge.  It used to be that you reached a point of diminishing returns with ground-based telescopes, because Earth’s atmospheric distortion set limits on the resolution, which is one of the reason why they built the highly successful Hubble Space Telescope.  Now however, scientists can use a technology called Adaptive Optics, which adjusts for atmospheric distortion and several huge telescope projects have cropped up as a result.  The ten meter Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea is one of them and I’ve featured images from that telescope here.  They are saying that this new telescope will be several times more powerful than Hubble.  Ground-based telescopes with Adaptive optics can capture finer details than space-based telescopes because of the cost of launching larger objects into space.

I don’t know if it takes a dedicated astronomy junkie like me to appriciate news like this, but I’ll probably steal and post cool images from the new telescope here in future.

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~ by Bill Housley on March 4, 2011.

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