Daily Archives: 11th April

How big is your telescope?

I love the way that scientific institutions name telescopes.

It started with the “large” telescopes like the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), an 11.4-metre telescope (made up of two 8.4-metre mirrors) in the Pinaleno Mountains of Arizona; the Very Large Telescope (VLT), an array of four 8.2-metre telescopes in the Atacama Desert in Chile; and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), an 8.4-metre telescope also planned for the Chilean desert.

Large Binocular Telescope

Very Large Telescope array

After the “large” telescopes came the “giant” telescopes: the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is 21.4-metre telescope under construction at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT) is a planned 20-30-metre telescope.

Giant Magellan Telescope

Some of the larger telescopes, like the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) have disappointingly simple names; it seems that after using up “giant” they went back to “large”, but with adverbs. There’s the 42-metre European Extremely Large Telescope (EELT) and my personal favourite: the 60-metre Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL).

Thirty Metre Telescope

European Extremely Large Telescope

Overwhelmingly Large Telescope