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Going on hiatus

April 29, 2010

I have about a trillion things I would like to blog about here–Mercury, Venus, Saturn, the return of the summer constellations–but I’m not going to get to any of those things today, or anytime soon. I have a lot of end of the academic year activities coming up and some papers I desperately need to finish writing, and amidst all this meatspace busyness I’ve decided to give myself some time off from bitspace. The whole month of May, in fact.

If you get here while I’m gone and need something to do, print out this month’s Evening Sky Map, grab some binoculars, and go see the universe. If you get through with the ESM target list and need more, there is a great set of free star charts here and links to observing projects on the sidebar. If it’s cloudy where you’re at, the stars are always twinkling in Stellarium. If you’re thinking about buying a telescope, good for you–just read this first.

Before I take off, here are a couple of cool pictures. First, a picture of Palomar Observatory Public Affairs Coordinator Scott Kardel with the 200-inch (5 meter) Hale telescope, from his website:

The 200-inch was the world’s largest telescope from 1948 to 1975, and the largest useful telescope from 1948 to 1993, when it was eclipsed by the first of the 10-meter Keck telescopes. (The 6-meter Soviet BTA-6, which reigned as “world’s largest” from 1975-1993, was more of a publicity stunt than a functional intrument.)

Now CalTech, the University of California, and a consortium of Canadian, Japanese, and Chinese universities and observatories are building the Thirty Meter Telescope. That’s right: a reflecting telescope with a segmented primary mirror almost 100 feet across. I’m a sucker for pictures of colossal telescopes looming over puny humans (like, er, this one: world’s largest from 1908-1917), so I almost swooned when I saw this digital rendering on the TMT site:

This looks like science fiction, but it’s not. They’re going to start building the TMT this year, with first light planned for 2018. Hang on–the known universe is about to expand again.

See you in June.

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One comment

  1. […] noted in my oath-breaking last post, I bought one of the Sky-Watcher scopes that is on crazy sale at Amazon right now. I got […]



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