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July 15, 1996
Keck: The Largest Optical Telescope
Credit: P. Stomski (W. M. Keck Observatory), Caltech, U. California
Explanation: In buildings eight stories tall rest mirrors ten metres across that are slowly allowing humanity to map the universe. Alone, each is the world's largest optical telescope: Keck. Together, the twin Keck telescopes have the resolving power of a single telescope 90-metre in diameter, able to discern sources just milliarcseconds apart. Since opening in 1992, the real power of Keck I (left) has been in its enormous light-gathering ability - allowing astronomers to study faint and distant objects in our Galaxy and the universe. Keck II, completed earlier this year, and its twin are located on the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA. In the distance is Maui's volcano Haleakala. One reason Keck was built was because of the difficultly for astronomers to get funding for a smaller telescope.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.