Thirty Meter Telescope focus of Universe Tonight


Thirty Meter Telescope focus of Universe Tonight

The Thirty Meter Telescope, or TNT, the next-generation telescope on Mauna Kea, will be the focus of the monthly Universe Tonight program at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Mauna Kea Visitor Center at the 9,200-foot elevation. Following an hour-long formal program, skygazing will follow outside until 10 p.m.

Ever since Galileo peered through his homemade telescope toward Saturn more than 400 years ago, telescopes and observational astronomy have seen enormous changes: Telescope apertures have been doubling roughly every 30 years; scientific instruments have been built to explore the full spectrum of light from X-ray to radio from both ground-based and space observatories.

The frontier of astronomical discoveries demands telescopes of ever powerful light-gathering capability and sharp space resolving power to look back at the early days of the universe and to search for Earth-like planets around their suns.

The summit of Mauna Kea is one of the world-class premier sites for observational astronomy. Following the evolutionary path of the Keck telescope here on Mauna Kea, TMT will use 492 segmented mirrors to make up a single hyperboloidal surface 30 meters in size. Adaptive optics will be an integral part of the telescope design to mitigate the effects of atmospheric turbulence and to enable true diffraction-limited imaging on the ground.

Three first-light instruments will provide wide-field imaging and spectroscopy capabilities at near-ultraviolet to optical wavelengths, as well as diffraction-limited imaging and spectroscopy in near-infrared to explore the broad astronomical terrain from the first stars in the universe to planets orbiting nearby stars.

“If you are interested and want to learn about the new up-and-coming Thirty Meter Telescope, come join us at the Visitor Information Station, as Dr. Ruisheng Peng discusses the TMT’s design, first-light instruments and science goals,” said program spokeswoman Janet Nathani.

The Universe Tonight is a free presentation on the first Saturday of every month, when a member of the Mauna Kea astronomy community shares his or her mana‘o and research with the public.

For more information on this program series at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station, call 961-2180 or visit www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis.

 

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