What is the ELT?
A few years from now, the largest telescope in history will turn its giant eye to the sky. The Extremely Large Telescope’s 39-metre mirror is bigger than all existing professional optical telescopes combined.
Even before the completion of the Very Large Telescope, European scientists and engineers drew up plans for an even bigger instrument. Equipped with a 39-metre segmented mirror, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will study the Universe at visible and infrared wavelengths. Preparatory work for the construction of the ELT is already in full swing at Cerro Armazones in northern Chile, close to ESO’s existing Paranal Observatory. With its suite of scientific instruments, the ELT will further strengthen ESO’s role in astronomy.
You know the feeling. If you’ve built a sand castle, your next one needs to be bigger. That’s true for telescopes, too. So ESO is building the largest telescope in the world. Its mirror is almost half as big as a soccer field.