In the year 2000, with the coming of the new millennium, work began on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, constructing the largest optical telescope in the world, the Gran Tecan.
In the year 2000, with the coming of the new millennium, work began on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, constructing the largest optical telescope in the world, the Gran Tecan. The telescope, sponsored by the Instituto Astrofisico de Canarias and the Spanish Government, took more than seven years to be completed, and two years to be 100% operational. And it is to build a telescope on a volcanic island to almost 2400 meters above sea level, is not easy. Especially knowing their components.
The primary mirror of 10.4 meters in diameter, is segmented into 36 hexagonal parts, only 8 inches thick … but weight 450kb each!. In total, the telescope weighs over 16 tons, and the building material of the mirrors (made in Germany) is the Zerodur, a glass ceramic type that practically does not suffer from temperature changes, something essential when working in similar altitudes, where difference between day and night are of many degrees Celsius …Furthermore, to avoid imperfections, polished mirrors are coming to have a surface error of only 15 nanometers (0.000015 mm) … that means that if we could enlarge the mirror to the size of the Iberian peninsula, we would have no more than 1 mm high mountain!…
But the most impressive of all is that the telescope, plus its dome, weighing over 500 tonnes … and the whole structure rests on a thin layer of special lubricant that allows one person to turn the entire dome with a single push! … The truth, which is a spectacular feat of engineering, a sample of the creative power of man, which help us to learn the secrets of the universe ….