Plans for world's biggest telescope get go-ahead

  • 12 June 2012
Artist's impression of European Extremely Large Telescope Image copyright AFP photo/eso

Plans to build the world's largest optical telescope have been given the go-ahead.

The snappily-titled European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will be built on top of a mountain in Chile, which is actually in South America not Europe!

The Atacama desert's dry conditions and clear skies make it an ideal viewing spot.

It'll have a massive 39.3 metre-wide mirror to track down Earth-like planets around other stars.

Image copyright AFP photo/eso
Image caption The telescope will be housed in a structure the size of a football stadium

Its size means it'll be able to take much sharper images and survey a much larger area of space.

The telescope will also look for black holes and find out more about mysterious "dark matter" and how galaxies form.

It'll cost around £800 million and should be completed by the year 2022.

The project is being run by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), an organisation of 15 countries that build powerful astronomical telescopes.