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Star gazing August 25, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.

Having always had an inquisitive interest in things beyond this planet, my thoughts are presently drawn to the magnificently named E.L.T.A. – the Extremely Large Telescope Array, which is being built way up in the Chilean Andes. The place itself is called Llano de Chajnantor, 17,000 feet up in the middle of the desolate Atacama desert. It seems this place is going to be the new site for “the greatest show in the universe”.

When the telescope array, numbering about 64 dishes, is completed in the year 2011, it will dwarf the already huge V.L.T. – Very Large Telescope array, in Paranal, Chile and a similar installation in New Mexico, known from the film ‘Contact’.

This new array of star-gazing scopes and computers, properly called the A.L.M.A. – the Atacama Large Millimeter Array – will be able to give scientists and astronomers a new insight into the galaxy, possibly telling us more than we already know about the Big Bang, planet formation and the make-up of the whole cosmos. Stuff like what banged, how it banged and what happened next sort of thing. The project is also being part funded by the European Space Agency (yes we have one !) as well as the Americans and the Japanese.

So what would you like to see or look at if you could peer into the A.L.M.A. for a half an hour or so ? Details of the project can be seen on the A.L.M.A. website or the newsletter the European Southern Observatory in South America produces.

Well worth a nosy …

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