The Biggest Telescope on Earth?

lbt mirrorThis image is one I took of the left mirror of the Large Binocular Telescope atop Mt. Graham for an article on LBT that appeared in Sky & Telescope.  I was in company of Dr. Richard Green, director of the observatory.  PBS has aired a series called 400 Years of the Telescope, and NOVA aired another series called Giant Telescopes of Tomorrow two years after my other article “The New Monster Telescopes” appeared in Sky & Telescope.  I also visited Kitt Peak and the Catalina Sky Survey telescope atop Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, an observatory that scouts for near-Earth asteroids, and wrote other articles on astronomy for Progressive Engineer, Tucson Weekly, Inside Tucson Business, and AZ 360 magazines.  The subject has always fascinated me, as has science fiction, so it was a treat more recently to be able to interview physicist Brian Greene as well.  There is debate about what is the biggest telescope (or soon to be), and is bigger even better?  Well, yes and no.  Different telescopes do different duties, with different instrumentation imaging various ranges of the spectrum.  There are radio telescopes, multiple mirror scopes, space telescopes, telescope arrays, the list goes on.  What might prove to be the best and certainly most popular scope will be the James Webb Space telescope, which has a projected launch date of 2018.  But will it ever get off the ground, given NASA budgeting dilemmas? Time will tell. The future is always surprising…

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