Professional Telescopes

Space and ground-based telescopes have not only transformed astronomical research, but they are impressive feats of engineering in themselves. The Hubble Space Telescope — the first large (2.5m) space-based telescope — can lay claim to some of mankind’s greatest discoveries.

But astronomers have multiple means of seeing the universe. They’ve equipped a Boeing 747 with a 2.5m telescope that looks out of a hole cut in the craft’s fuselage; they’ve placed 66 radio dishes on a plateau in the Chilean Andes, providing some of the sharpest views of the universe yet; and they’ve even designed telescopes no bigger than a loaf of bread. Sky & Telescope keeps you up to date on new ingenious methods of peering into the depths of space.


Sharpest Ever Images of the Sun

Astronomers at Big Bear Solar Observatory in sunny California have upgraded their 1.6-meter telescope with a new adaptive optics system. The scope is now producing the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun.

Discovery Channel Telescope’s Debut

After seven years of construction, Lowell Observatory's Discovery Channel Telescope is about to come online. The DCT team expects the state-of-the-art 4.3-meter scope to breathe new life into the storied observatory and allow astronomers new views of comets, stars, and deep-space objects.

Little Scope Makes Big Finds

Scientists using the diminutive KELT North telescope have discovered two extrasolar planets, one of which is unlike anything yet seen. The finding provides researchers with raw material to study exoplanets, but it also demonstrates that sometimes, the little guys can still win big.

Hubble Space Telescope

NASA’s New Spy Scopes

Out of the blue, NASA finds itself the new owner of two new Hubble-class space telescopes sitting in a warehouse, courtesy of a spy agency that didn't want them. But like many gifts, they aren't exactly free.

JCMT to close?

Closure Nears for Two Observatories

Although not a total surprise, a decision announced on May 31st by the United Kingdom's Science and Technology Facilities Council means that two long-time residents of Mauna Kea's observatory complex might soon be shut down.

Square Kilometer Array

Square Kilometer Array: A Split Decision

Astronomers from South Africa and Australia had each made a case for hosting what will become the world's largest radio telescope. But the international partners decided to award portions of the project to both countries — an unexpected compromise.

Preparing the 6-meter BTA mirror

New Eye for Giant Russian Telescope

From 1975 until 1993, Russians astronomers could boast about having the world's largest optical telescope. Now they're hoping to extend the 6-meter scope's cosmic reach by completely refurbishing its original primary mirror.

Hobby-Eberly Telescope

A Bold Plan to Study Dark Energy

Beginning later this year, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment will begin to analyze the spectra of one million primordial galaxies — and, its designers hope, get some answers about the mysterious force that's accelerating the expansion of the universe.

19 dishes of the ALMA radio array

ALMA Radio Array Gets to Work

High in the Chilean Andes, at the nosebleed altitude of 16,400 feet (5,000 m), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array has begun to probe the depths of the radio universe as never before.