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TOPIC: Gran Telescopio Canarias


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A $3.2 million contract draws to a close this week as a noted Spanish astronomer visits the University of Florida.
Jose M. Rodriguez-Espinosa is on campus for the acceptance testing of the Canaricam, the infrared camera UF has been building to be added to the Gran Telescopio Canarias, or GTC, the largest telescope in the world. Its been under construction in Spains Canary Islands for the past seven years. The UF team of engineers and scientists is led by astronomy professors Charles Telesco and Chris Packham.

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El Gran Telescopio CANARIAS deslumbra en su Primera Luz
El Príncipe de Asturias fue ayer testigo del éxito de la Primera Luz del Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, situado en el Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Isla de La Palma). La primera estrella observada fue Tycho 1205081, cercana a la Estrella Polar. El GTC también apuntó a la galaxia UGC 10923.

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Primera estrella medida con el Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC). La estrella Tycho 1205081, cercana a Polaris, con los 12 segmentos del GTC apilados. El gráfico de la izquierda muestra un corte a través de la imagen. Dicha técnica se utiliza en astronomía para calcular la calidad óptica, que en este caso es de 0.6 segundos de arco, un resultado que supone un logro importante para una primera luz de un telescopio segmentado.
Credit GTC-IAC


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One of the world's largest and most powerful telescopes opened its shutters, turned its 34-foot wide mirror toward the skies and captured its first light at a mountaintop on one of Spain's Canary Islands on Saturday.
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Perched atop a 7,800 foot peak on the Atlantic island of La Palma, the Great Canary Telescope will receive its so-called "first light" _ when the telescope is pointed toward the sky and focuses on the North Star _ Friday night.
The telescope will have 36 hexagonal mirrors, of which 12 are already in place.
Once the telescope has had its first light, the remaining 24 mirrors will be placed and adjusted, and the scope will be fully functional within a year.

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One of the world's largest optical telescopes is set to peer into space for the first time.
Installed on a 2,400m-high  peak on the Canary Island of La Palma, the huge telescope consists of a mirror measuring 10.4m  in diameter.
The Spanish-led Great Canary Telescope (GTC) is extremely powerful and will be able to spot some of the faintest, most distant objects in the Universe.
The "first light" ceremony will take place on Friday.

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The world's largest telescope starts using its complex structure of mirrors today to scour the outer reaches of the universe for planets similar to our own and to seek clues to help explain the origins of life.
Set on a mountain on an Atlantic island, far enough from human habitation to get a clear view of the night sky, the Great Canary Telescope carries with it the hopes of scientists who believe clues to understanding our world can be found in as yet unseen parts of the universe. The telescope will, in effect, peer back in time as it picks up light emitted long ago in other parts of the universe.

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Although not yet fully functional, the telescope, situated on Spains Canary Islands, is scheduled to take the first deep-space pictures this week, during the initial testing program.
The Gran Telescopio Canarias, or GTC, is a multi-national astronomical project that involves the Spanish Government, the University of Florida and two other Mexican institutions. The UF invested about $5 million in the construction of the mastodon, and owns 5% share of the final building, giving UF scientists the right to 20 nights of telescope time annually for observations.
According to Dermott, the telescope- worth about $175 million- is made of 36 mirrors of which only 12 have been installed until now, in more than 7 years of work. The final stage of construction will occur sometimes next summer, when the 36 mirrors will compose a larger, more accurate mirror with a size of 34.1 foot. The remaining mirrors are expected to be mounted this year, with the telescopes grand opening expected to be presided by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
However, at present time there are enough mirrors installed to allow for initial tests, which will begin at 10 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time Friday (6 p.m. EDT), when Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne, will train the telescope on Polaris, the North Star, for a ceremonial observation to be attended by about 300 people.

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GTC
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Latitude: 28.756567°, Longitude: -17.891941°

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The worlds largest telescope will take its first peek into the heavens this week, ushering the University of Florida into the top ranks of the big observers, as one astronomy professor put it.
The Gran Telescopio Canarias, or GTC, under construction in Spains Canary Islands for the past seven years, will hold its first light opening ceremony Friday. UF, which contributed $5 million to the project and owns a 5 percent share, is the only U.S. institution with a stake in the massive telescope.

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  Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain, will preside over the final opening ceremony of the astronomy department's greatest project to date.
The University of Florida has partnered with Spain to build the Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands, said Vicki Sarajedini, astronomy professor at UF and a previous member on the Science Advisory Committee of the GTC.
While construction of the structure of the GTC, which began in 2000, will be finished July of this year, the telescope will not be fully functional until early next year, said Rafael Guzman, astronomy professor at the University of Florida and the vice president of the Gran Telescopio Canarias Committee.

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