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That’s not a telescope!

IF CROCODILE DUNDEE had carried a telescope, it would have been an extremely large one … perhaps the largest in the world.

The science and engineering needed to make a telescope that has a primary mirror 10 times the size of world’s largest telescope is truly astronomical. Such telescopes, costing in excess of 1 billion Euro, are currently being designed in both Europe and the United States.

This month Prof. Jason Spyromilio, who heads the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Project, will present a public lecture on the most ambitious of these designs…an optical telescope with a 42-metre-diameter primary mirror!

The European ELT will be over 10,000 times more powerful than any telescope in Australia, able to image planets in other star systems and directly observe the expansion of the universe, amongst many other scientific objectives.

Size comparison between the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Sydney Opera House.

Artist's impression comparing the sizes of the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Sydney Opera House.

Jason Spyromilio completed his PhD at Imperial College London before coming to Australia to join the Anglo-Australian Observatory (now the Australian Astronomical Observatory) in 1991, where he was the instrument scientist for a number of Anglo-Australian Telescope instruments (and is remembered for augmenting one of them with a Lego train set!).

He moved to ESO in 1994, and has headed the European Extremely Large Telescope Project Office since 2006 (and was the director of ESO’s La Silla Paranal Observatory 2005-2007).

Prof. Spyromilio’s main research interest is supernovae (exploding stars), but he has also worked on comets, brown dwarfs and other cosmic phenomena.


Where: Long Room, Customs House at Riverside, Brisbane

When: Monday, May 9, 2011, 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm. No need to book—just turn up!

Contact: Any questions, please email Andrew Stephenson

Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, where Prof. Jason Spyromilio will be available to answer any questions

Adapted from information issued by BrisScience / University of Queensland. Images courtesy ESO.

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