RAS welcomes UK investment in giant telescope
The Royal Astronomical Society has welcomed the announcement that the UK will invest £88 million in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The telescope, which will be part of the 14-nation strong European Southern Observatory, will have a mirror 39 metres across and be sited in Cerro Amarzones in Chile. When complete in 2022, E-ELT will be the largest optical telescope in the world and will make a unique contribution to astronomy, from seeing the light of the very first galaxies that formed after the Big Bang to obtaining images of planets in orbit around nearby stars.
The investment comes at a time when funding for science, including astronomy, is diminishing in real terms. The Society thus welcomes the extremely positive step to commit the UK to participate in the E-ELT and urges the UK Government to ensure that the research base for the rest of astronomy and space science is adequately supported.
Professor David Southwood, President of the RAS, commented: "E-ELT is an extraordinary international venture and is set to revolutionise our understanding of the universe, so I am delighted that the Government has recognised its importance with such a significant investment. The challenge now is to make sure that we have the highly trained people here that can exploit the telescope to the full and that we continue to support the broad research programme that makes the UK a world leader in astronomy."
Notes for editors
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS, www.ras.org.uk), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3500 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.
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