Large and Very Large Telescopes

Chapter
Part of the Integrated Science & Technology Program book series (ISTP, volume 1)

Abstract

The last three decades have seen almost exponential growth in the numbers of large and very large telescopes, with the unanticipated current situation that there are almost as many VLTs as there are 4 m-class telescopes. This growth in numbers has been curiosity-driven, but obviously technology-led. After an initial plateau of 4 m telescopes in the 1980s, the cost-scaling with aperture (typically ∼ D2. 7) has required dramatic changes in crucial fundamentals of large telescope design in order to be both technically feasible and politically affordable. However, to meet astronomers’ demands for larger amounts of extremely large telescope time will require exploring new paradigms in large telescope construction. HET/SALT present such an opportunity. Their current status and potential will be described, and used as lessons to be learnt when high technology projects attempt to “break the cost-curve”.

Keywords

Telescopes Astronomy: surveys Astronomical observatories 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to David Buckley and Shireen Davis for assisting in the preparation of some of the figures used here and in providing some of the references.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.South African Astronomical ObservatoryCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Physics & AstronomyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Department of AstronomyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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