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

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

Poof! Mountain Blows Its Top To Make Way For Huge Telescope

All’s clear for a huge telescope to start construction on a mountaintop in Chile! That puff you see is the top of Cerro Armazones getting a haircut, losing many tons of rock in just a few seconds. The aim is to clear the way for the European Extremely Large Telescope, a 39-meter (128-foot) monster of a telescope to occupy the mountain’s top. Once completed later this decade, the optical/near-infrared telescope has an ambitious research schedule ahead of it. It will search for planets that look like Earth, try to learn more about how nearby galaxies were formed, and even look for the mysterious dark energy and dark matter that pervade our universe. Construction is being overseen by the European Southern Observatory, which provided an enthusiastic livetweet of the process. You can learn more about E-ELT on ESO’s webpage here.  Thanks to @observingspace for posting a Vine of the explosion. Below is an ESO video showing preparations for the blast.

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