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Look up...and watch down
July 13, 2007 10:55 AM   Subscribe

The GTC (Great Telescope Canaries) sees first light today. Apart from the sheer size (10.4 m) of its mirror and from the science it will deliver, the GTC is remarkable by its location at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory 2426 m high at the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente in the island of La Palma. La Palma is also, for a number of reasons, also interesting for geologists. In that regard, it made headlines a couple of years back due to a paper about the risk of a collapse of the island which could cause a devastating tsunami. Oh, and it's also a really nice place for a holiday.
posted by Skeptic (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"the science it will deliver" is an awesome phrase.
posted by dismas at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2007


It delivers over 5 sciences per hour. That's a lot of science and well beyond the level most residential science delivery systems can deliver.
posted by DU at 11:16 AM on July 13, 2007


Just imagine...it will be able to peer back to the earliest days of the universe; 7000 years ago!
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:29 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've noticed the use of "science" as an uncountable mass noun recently, too.

The Canary Islands seem to be Europe's backyard equivalent of Hawaii. They're considering putting other large telescopes there, including OWL.
posted by jiawen at 11:30 AM on July 13, 2007


I can see my house from here!
posted by doctorschlock at 11:36 AM on July 13, 2007


This new generation of terresterial telescopes is another reason for NASA to retire the shuttle which delivers no science at all.
posted by three blind mice at 11:39 AM on July 13, 2007


Was I the only person who thought this post was about giant birds that live in observatories at first?
posted by brundlefly at 11:57 AM on July 13, 2007


Tanned by one sun, educated by 6^999,999,999 others.

Shall I enjoy a double-long expresso and walnut biscotti by the harbour today, or do transit-scans for Earth-like Exoplanets in the HD 36705 Region?

The life of the tropical astronomer. Sheesh.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:08 PM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


This new generation of terresterial telescopes is another reason for NASA to retire the shuttle which delivers no science at all.

What's that got to do with anything? There's certainly still reasons for space telescopes -- the seeing at 500 miles is vastly better than the seeing at 7000 feet.

True, the Shuttle is basically a waste, but terrestrial telescopes aren't an argument against. Both the VLT and Keck have larger total mirrors than GTC, yet, despite their excellent sites and adaptive optics, we still get very useful and unique data from Chanda, Spitzer and Hubble.

The argument against the shuttle is cost per kilogram to orbit, period. Anything else is window dressing.
posted by eriko at 1:14 PM on July 13, 2007


Clearly they had other motivations.
posted by datacenter refugee at 1:26 PM on July 13, 2007


I've noticed the use of "science" as an uncountable mass noun recently, too.


If we are going to be pedant, "science" is from the Latin "scientia", meaning "knowledge". And that telescope is certainly going to deliver knowledge.
posted by Skeptic at 2:03 PM on July 13, 2007


Did I say using "science" that way is a bad thing? No, just that I've noticed it.
posted by jiawen at 4:33 PM on July 13, 2007


I've been there myself, both observing and for a bit of a holiday. I think it's worth adding that the local wine is also very good.
All round, a great place to visit, and I'd love to go again (especially if I get to play with a certain rather large toy).
posted by edd at 4:34 PM on July 13, 2007


Given that I am not seeing pretty pictures like Hubbles ones, I am going to think this scope is useless ! What's the point of pretty pictures anyway , is it like we are looking for some secret space porn ?

You gotta put cool into science, and it'll be flying like a mofo all over this bitch ! And you fish yourself some brain in da procezz.
posted by elpapacito at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2007


I love telescopes. I built myself a copyscope a couple of years ago, and have a deep love for the idea of something that is exponentially bigger.

Come to think of it, I wonder how many science-watts-per-hour my scope produces.
posted by quin at 5:06 PM on July 13, 2007


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