Summer Science Exhibition

Designing a giant eye on the sky

The E-ELT vs the London Eye

‘Bigger is better’ for researchers and engineers from three UK institutions who are helping to develop the world’s largest ground-based telescope to dramatically improve our view of the Universe.

For 400 years scientists have built ever-bigger telescopes to study space.  The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will be a ground-based optical/infra-red telescope with a 42m diameter mirror larger than all the current ground-based telescopes combined.   This huge mirror will be built from 984 hexagonal segments.   It will use Adaptive Optics to compensate for blurring of images caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, capturing images up to 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.  The giant telescope will allow us to study Earth-like planets orbiting stars outside our solar system.

“The E-ELT will revolutionise astronomy, allowing us to study the Universe in great detail, from  planetary systems around nearby stars, to the most distant galaxies formed when the Universe was only a tenth of its current age,” says Professor Colin Cunningham from The UK Astronomy Technology Centre of the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Visitors to the exhibit will view a 3D video of the huge telescope, see how adaptive optics sharpen the twinkling image of distant stars and galaxies, and find out how to get involved in the “Get the Hex” campaign.  

Exhibited by the UK Astronomy Technology Centre of the Science and Technology Facilities Council; University of Durham; University of Oxford; The European Southern Observatory

Exhibition video

Exhibitor's latest blog

Opening Night
By Tania | Saturday 26th June, 8:22am

Well, the exhibition is now officially open and we had a great first night. Our stickers seem to be a hit, with adults and kids alike.
One thing we are doing on our stand is encouraging people to suggest a different name for the European Extremely Large Telescope. Although a couple of people have said to me that they really like the name (not much chance of getting confused about what it is!) we've also had some fantastic suggestions. Some of the most interesting ones we've had so far include:
- The Big One
- Alfiola
- XXeLt
- Polifemo
- Oculus Maximus
We also had one young man suggest a motto for the telescope which was 'Per Aspera ad Astra' meaning 'Through Hardship to the Stars'.
Melvin Bragg visited the exhibition tonight and watched our E-ELT inspired dance video - he seemed to quite like it!

View all 'Designing a giant eye on the sky' blog posts

The Exhibition is located in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and takes place from Friday 25 June to Sunday 4 July 2010. Open Friday 25 June 6pm - 8.30pm, then daily 10am - 8.30pm. Entrance is free. For groups larger than 12 people, please contact us to book.