The Giant Magellan Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope is an ELT (Extremely large Telescope)  under construction. ELT’s are telescopes on the Earth that are the size of buildings. 

The giant Magellan Telescope will have seven mirrors that are 27 feet in diameter which makes them the largest mirrors in the world.

These mirrors will be able to observe infrared and optical light. The telescope is projected to have a resolving power 10 times stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope. This means the Magellan Space Telescope will take better pictures than The Hubble Space Telescope.

However, this image quality comes at a cost. In order to create one mirror for The Giant Magellan telescope takes six years. 


The Giant Magellan Telescope is being built in Campañas Observatory. The observatory is located in Chile. In this location the telescope is 2000 m above sea level. At this height the atmosphere is less thick, Resulting in clear images. The telescope is also in the middle of nowhere. To reduce interference of light pollution. 

How The Telescope Works 

The Gaint Magellan Telescope will use a combination of lines, curves and mirrors to focus light and take snapshots of the sky. The Telescope will use seven of the largest mirrors in the world as primary mirror segments. There will be one mirror in the center and six surrounding the mirror in the middle symmetrically.

The mirrors will be connected to one light-collecting surface 80 feet across. This makes the telescope three times wider than any other optical Telescope today. Each mirror will be accompanied by seven adaptive secondary mirrors. The secondary mirror will be 3 feet wide. 

More Details

Light from the edge of space will reflect off of the primary mirrors, then reflect again off of the seven smaller secondary mirrors to go down through the center primary mirror hole to form a single focus. Then a Instrument will analyze the light. 

The primary mirrors are created at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in Tucson, Arizona. The engineers have to be  very precise when making the glass of the telescope because if there calculations are off by one-millionth of an inch the telescope will not take pictures probably. 

In order to reduce errors engineers developed actuators. The actuators will be located underneath the secondary mirrors constantly adjusting the mirrors to counteract atmospheric turbulence. 

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