First Stone Ceremony for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope
Upon completion, the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the largest optical-IR telescope in the world. It will provide exquisitely sharp images of the universe in the optical and IR, with resolution close to its theoretical diffraction limit. The telescope will sit on Cerro Armazones in Chile, an excellent astronomical site close to the existing ESO Very Large Telescope.
On 26 May, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, President of the Republic of Chile, attended a ceremony marking the beginning of construction on the dome and main telescope structure of the ELT. The event was held at ESO's Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, close to the site of the future giant telescope. This milestone ushered in a new era in astronomy and also marked the connection of the observatory to the Chilean national electrical grid.
Highlights of the ceremony included the sealing of a time capsule prepared by ESO. The contents include a poster of photographs of current ESO staff and a copy of the book describing the future scientific goals of the telescope.
In her speech, the President emphasized: "With the symbolic start of this construction work, we are building more than a telescope here: it is one of the greatest expressions of scientific and technological capabilities and of the extraordinary potential of international cooperation."
Patrick Roche, President of the ESO Council, added: "This is a milestone in ESO's history, the ELT will be the most powerful and ambitious telescope of its kind. We have reached this point thanks to the efforts of many people in the Member States of ESO, in Chile and elsewhere, over many years. I thank them all and am delighted to see many of them here today, celebrating on this occasion."