The Discovery Channel’s awesome new $53M telescope has finally opened its “eye” – and its first shots are gorgeous.
More than nine years in the making, it is now the continental U.S.’s fifth largest eye on the sky and was created in partnership between Discovery Communications and Lowell Observatory.
The 14-foot telescope and its housing are at a dark sky site in the 1.8 million-acre Coconino National Forest near Happy Jack, Arizona. The project sits at an elevation of 7,760 feet.
“The Discovery Channel Telescope is emblematic of our mission to ignite curiosity and stir the imagination of audiences here and around the globe,” said John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of Discovery Communications; who also donated $6M of his own money towards the project.
The first photos from the project, taken in April and May of this year, were revealed last weekend at the First Light Gala celebrating the telescope’s launch. The photos, below, include M104, “The Sombrero Galaxy,” the barred spiral galaxy M109, and M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy.
To learn more about the project, check out the official site here. The Discovery Channel is planning on airing a special on the new telescope this September.