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European Observatory's Telescope Receives 'First Light'

Photonics Spectra
Jul 1998
On the night of May 25-26, Unit Telescope 1 of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope returned its first scientifically useful images. The "first light" images demonstrated resolution better than half an arc second for the first 8.2-m telescope operational at the site in Cerro Paranal, Chile.
The primary mirror is only 175 mm thick, allowing active control, which, when combined with extremely stable telescope tracking and good observing conditions at the 2600-m altitude of the site, has allowed the telescope to meet milestones not scheduled until 2001. Unit 1 is the first of four telescopes that will constitute the Very Large Telescope. First light for the last of the four is scheduled for July 2000.

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