Illustration for article titled Watch a Mountain Explode to Make Way For the Worlds Largest Telescope

The name for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is exactly as literal as it sounds. When completed, it will be the largest optical telescope in the world. And to make room, they're blasting off the top of a mountain in Chile.

The groundbreaking ceremony starts around 12:30pm EST, and the actual blasting is expected at 2:10.


Update: The explosion happened (believed it or not!) ahead of schedule. A gif of the blast is below, and alas, it is not as exciting as we might have hoped.

E-ELT will be built on top of Cerro Armazones, a 10,000-foot peak with high and dry conditions ideal for a powerful telescope. And it will be extremely large indeed. Its main mirror is 131 feet (40 meters) in diameter, compared to some of our most powerful telescopes now that are, oh, less than 100 feet across.


The state-of-the-art telescope will be used to hunt for habitable planets in far away solar systems. Astronomers also hope to make observations that will unlock some fundamental mysteries about our universe, as E-ELT could possibly measure the acceleration of the universe's expansion directly.

But for now, we'll have to sit back and enjoy the view of the mountain. E-ELT is not expected to be completed for another 10 years.


Top image: ESO

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