|Click to enlarge|
|First GMTO Mirror|
For those of you who are interested in the accuracy of the mirror, you can enlarge the image at right, which is a picture I took of a poster sitting next to the first mirror. The LBT referred to is the Large Binocular Telescope, currently the largest optical telescope in the world sporting twin 8.4 meter mirrors. Ironically, when the GMTO comes on line it will be competing to retain its position as the largest telescope at 24.5 meters as there is a consortium working to create the "Thirty Meter Telescope" as well as discussion of "The Extremely Large Telescope" of 42 meters!
Continuing on, Dean took us to heart of the days festivities, the rotating furnace containing the molten glass that will become mirror number two. There was something awe inspiring as we descended the steps into the room. Not only was it impressive visually, but the sound or the furnace moving and the sensation of the heat radiating from the furnace reminded everyone that we were seeing history. To stick with the GMTO theme, it was as if we were witnessing construction of the ship that Magellan would sail in the first crossing from Atlantic to Pacific oceans, or in the first circumnavigation of the world. At left is an image of the furnace as it rotates. From left to right in the picture are Dean and Melinda Ketelsen, and me with my friend and colleague Cathi Duncan who coordinates outreach for the Mirror Lab (she rocked the weekend!).
A BIG thank you to Dean for arranging this opportunity for TAAA members to experience this historic event. So what is the next best thing to being there? A video of course! I made this short video with my point and shoot camera and uploaded it to You Tube...if your volume is on, you can hear the furnace as it rotates. Several folks who have seen this video have asked about the speed of the furnace. As it turns out (pun intended) the furnace speed was about 4.8 mph while I was visiting.