Capital role in approval for giant scope

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THE Edinburgh-based UK Astronomy Technology Centre has played a key role in the world’s largest optical telescope being given the go-ahead.

Plans for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) programme have been approved by the governing council of the European Southern Observatory.

The E-ELT will be 39 metres in diameter and is far more sensitive than any current telescope of its kind.

Despite being funded by 15 European countries, the £800 million piece of equipment will be built on top of a mountain in Chile.

Gillian Wright, director of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, based at the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill, said: “The E-ELT is an enormously exciting and important project that will enable astronomers to study the universe in unprecedented detail.

“The major UK involvement is a result of our world-leading scientific and technical capabilities. This deep involvement in the construction phase will ensure that UK scientists are at the forefront of discoveries.”