Very Large Telescope sees first light

July 1, 1998
The first of four 8.2-m telescopes at Paranal, Chile, achieved first light on May 25-26. The European Southern Observatory, which runs the project, announced that scientifically useful images were obtained on the first night of operation of the Very Large Telescope Unit Telescope 1 (VLT UT1). The telescope has an 8.2-m main mirror and a 1.1-m secondary mirror. The instrument meets or surpasses its design goals. Images obtained the first night from the CCD test camera showed angular resolutions a

Very Large Telescope sees first light

The first of four 8.2-m telescopes at Paranal, Chile, achieved first light on May 25-26. The European Southern Observatory, which runs the project, announced that scientifically useful images were obtained on the first night of operation of the Very Large Telescope Unit Telescope 1 (VLT UT1). The telescope has an 8.2-m main mirror and a 1.1-m secondary mirror. The instrument meets or surpasses its design goals. Images obtained the first night from the CCD test camera showed angular resolutions as fine as 0.32 arcsec. Exposures lasting u¥to 10 min confirm that the tracking is accurate and stable. The combination of large area and fine angular resolution, say the developers, "will ultimately result in a sensitivity for point sources better than any yet achieved by existing telescopes on Earth." Commissioning and science verification will last until April 1, 1999, when regular observation will begin. The deadline for submitting VLT observing proposals is October 1, 1998. Unprocessed images from the first night are available on the Web at www.gifso.org/outreach/press-rel/.

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