eso9205 — Photo Release
The ESO Very Large Telescope
22 April 1992
The photo shows a model of the ESO 16-metre equivalent Very Large Telescope (VLT), as it will appear on the Paranal mountain in the Chilean Atacama desert towards the end of the present decade. The VLT will become the world's largest optical telescope when it is ready.
Each of the four domes houses a reflecting telescope with a computed-controlled main mirror of diameter 8.2-metre, only 17.5 cm thick and weighing about 22 tons. These mirrors are the largest ever made and the total mirror surface of the VLT will be more than 200 m2.
The domes protect the telescopes against the weather, and also against high winds during the observing. Experience has shown that there are about 350 clear nights at Paranal each year, more than at any other known astronomical site on the Earth.
The four telescopes may be used individually or combined. In the latter case, the four light beams are led together in an underground optical laboratory. It will be possible to perform observations with the VLT from the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, via a very powerful satellite data link.
The VLT is funded by the ESO member countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland) who gave the green light for this ambitious project in December 1987. The total cost, including instrumentation, is estimated to be about 382 million DM (1986-prices).
In early 1992, the VLT Project is fully within budget and on schedule.