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Picture of Magellen enclosures from the bottom of a hill in daylight.
Nighttime view of Magellan enclosures at night with starry night in background.

Photo Credit: Carnegie Science, Fact Credit:

Magellan Facts:

- The Magellan main mirrors are f/1.25 paraboloids and a radical departure from the nearly solid-glass mirrors of the past.

- Each is 21,000 pounds of borosilicate glass with a lightweight honeycomb structure inside. It took 6 months to build the mold for each mirror, 2 days to fill it with chunks of glass, 1 week to melt the glass and spin it into shape (in a specially designed rotating oven), and 3 months for the glass to cool. Each was then polished for 8 months while its surface was constantly tested for accuracy. Relative to their size, the main mirrors are about as thin as a dime.

- The telescopes float on a film of high-pressure oil on a 9-meter diameter circular track. To prevent slippage, the drive cylinders and drive surfaces are forced together with 10,000 pounds of pressure

The 6.5-meter Baade and Clay telescopes were built by the Carnegie Institution of Washington at its Las Campanas Observatory in Chile on behalf of the Magellan Project, a collaborative effort by the Carnegie Institution, University of Arizona, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Magellan Consortium consists of more than 200 senior astronomers, 100 postdoctoral astronomers, and nearly 100 Ph.D. students. Each partner has its own scientific agenda for the telescopes and assigns its share of telescope usage.


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