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Telescopes for the 21st century

18 Oct 2009, 21:56 UTC
Telescopes for the 21st century
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The last week of september, I attended a meeting at Nice Observatoire. The Observatoire was founded in 1881 thanks to Raphaƫl Bischoffsheim generous sponsorship, XIXth century Mr. Keck. The dean of the observatory old instrumentation is a refractor accommodated within a building designed by Mr. Charles Garnier. The original dome was a clever device designed by Mr. Eiffel, (yes!, the same engineer that built a rather well known tower in Paris) - at the time the telescope was built the electric power supply at the Observatoire was not enough to support moving a dome over wheels, instead Mr. Eiffel designed a system based on supporting the dome on a channel so the whole structure was floating on water.
The meeting passed unattended for a large fraction of the European Astronomical Community however, it was an important meeting for astronomical instrumentation. Telescopes are optical instruments that magnify the image of far objects; they also are designed to collect as much radiation as possible. In fact, the current technological challenge is to increase the capability of telescopes to collect light (basically, to increase their size). Space telescopes are the most challenging ones. Some human beings love challenges. Laurent Koechlin is a French ...

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