William Herschel Telescope

The William Herschel Telescope

William Herschel Telescope

Europe's William Herschel Telescope – completed in 1987 - is located on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. When it was built, its 4.2m mirror made it the third largest telescope in the world.

One of the first images of the surface of a star other than the Sun was made using this telescope. Observations carried out with the telescope strengthened the evidence that there is a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

Image: Composite picture of WHT and the setting Moon over the Atlantic Ocean (credit: Nik Szymanek and Robert Dalby/ING)

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The William Herschel Telescope


This European telescope is located on La Palma.

About William Herschel Telescope

The William Herschel Telescope (WHT) is a 4.20-metre (165 in) optical/near-infrared reflecting telescope located at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain. The telescope, which is named after William Herschel, is part of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes. It is funded by research councils from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain.

At the time of construction in 1987, the WHT was the third largest single optical telescope in the world.[note 1] It is currently the second largest in Europe,[note 2] and was the final telescope constructed by Grubb Parsons in their 150-year history.

The WHT is equipped with a wide range of instruments operating over the optical and near-infrared regimes. These are used by professional astronomers to conduct a wide range of astronomical research. Astronomers using the telescope discovered the first evidence for a supermassive black hole (Sgr A*) at the centre of the Milky Way, and made the first optical observation of a gamma-ray burst.

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