Boom! Get Up Close To Yesterday’s Mountaintop Explosion For Astronomy

by Elizabeth Howell on June 20, 2014

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About 5,000 cubic meters of rock blasts into the air in this photo taken from a few hundred meters away. Credit: ESO

About 5,000 cubic meters of rock blasts into the air in this photo taken from a few hundred meters away. The explosion was part of the construction needed to clear the way for the European Extremely Large Telescope. Credit: ESO

Talk about starting your astronomy work with a bang! Yesterday’s controlled explosion on the top of Cerro Armazones marked the start of construction preparation for the European Extremely Large Telescope, a 39-meter (128-foot) device intended to teach us more about exoplanets and the universe’s history.

Luckily for those of us who couldn’t make it to Chile, the European Southern Observatory gave us some pictures and video of the explosion in action. These in fact are taken from just a few hundred meters away, much closer than delegates got yesterday during the groundbreaking ceremonies. Watch the videos below.

First light on E-ELT isn’t expected for another decade, but there will be lots more work to look forward to in the coming weeks, months and years. More explosions will continue to remove the top of the mountain and make it level for the telescope, and the design of the large telescope will be finalized.

Also, here’s some weekend reading for you, too: ESO’s 264-page construction proposal document for E-ELT. Also check out our previous stories on the explosion here and here.

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Aftermath of a planned explosion June 19, 2014 on the top of Cerro Aramzones to clear the way for the European Extremely Large Telescope. Credit: ESO

Aftermath of a planned explosion June 19, 2014 on the top of Cerro Aramzones to clear the way for the European Extremely Large Telescope. Credit: ESO

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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