It’s true. The Discovery Channel has a giant, tricked out telescope. And it’s about to come online. And yes, it’s actually called “The Discovery Channel Telescope.”
Nine years in the making, what will soon be the continental U.S.’s fifth largest eye on the sky was created in partnership between Discovery Communications and Lowell Observatory. The total price tag of $53M will allow the two entities to perform “exceptional” deep imaging surveys of the night sky, as well as function during bright phases of the moon.
To give you an idea of just how sensitive the components in this new telescope are, consider this: the mirror unit alone, weighing in at over 6,000 lbs, took almost three years to “figure and polish.”
“At this time, we remain on schedule for first light in May 2012,” Lowell officials told Examiner. ”Lowell astronomers will use the DCT to answer fundamental questions about our universe. In fact, some big questions – for example, how our solar system formed and how dwarf galaxies evolve – are only the beginning.”
The 14-foot telescope and its housing are at a dark sky site in the 1.8M acre Coconino National Forest near Happy Jack, Arizona. The project sits at an elevation of 7,760 feet.