All Eyes on E-ELT in UK Exhibition
28 June 2010
During the summer, in the UK, an exhibition including two innovative videos is showcasing inspirational plans to build the largest visible-light telescope in the world — the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
“Designing a Giant Eye on the Sky” is an exhibit at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition, part of See Further: The Festival of Science + Arts at the Southbank Centre in London. The exhibit features an innovative dance video “Get the Hex”. The film project involves students from The Royal High School in Edinburgh working with filmmaker and dance choreographer team Craig and Joanne Thomson to create a piece representing the science behind the mirror in the giant telescope. Tom Bacciarelli, who teaches at The Royal High School, says: “In the film, 60 of our students dance with silver hexagonal umbrellas to portray the giant mirror, Earth-like planets and galaxies. I hope other schools will be inspired the way we are.” The project used dance to explore science in line with Scotland's new Curriculum for Excellence and will feature on Glow, the education intranet for Scottish schools. The project was coordinated by City of Edinburgh Council’s Creative Links team and funded by the Scottish Arts Council.
A second video at the exhibit is a 3D film animation about the telescope that shows that its giant dome is nearly as big as the London Eye, which is outside the exhibition venue on the South Bank.
The giant telescope is in an advanced stage of design by astronomers and industry across Europe, led by ESO. The E-ELT, with a main mirror 42 metres in diameter, is expected to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe and its origins.
Professor Colin Cunningham of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, which is leading the partners involved in the UK part of this international project, explains: “The European Extremely Large Telescope will be the world’s largest optical telescope. It will enable us to track down Earth-like planets around other stars in the ‘habitable zones’ where life could exist, and study the earliest, most distant galaxies in the Universe. It will provide vital inspiration for young scientists and engineers and could bring contracts worth 200 million Euro to UK industry.”
Phil Harris, of OpTIC at Glyndwr University, which is developing technology to precision-polish mirrors for the telescope, says: “The telescope’s giant 42m diameter mirror will be made from nearly one thousand 1.4m hexagonal segments. The detail it will see in the night sky is equivalent to spotting a bumble bee at John O’Groats from Land’s End.”
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition showcases cutting edge research in science and engineering from across the UK. The Exhibition runs from Friday 25 June to Sunday 4 July 2010. The event is free and open to the public.
The partners and funders for the “Designing a Giant Eye on the Sky” exhibit are: Chiara Bello Design, Design London, Durham University, the European Southern Observatory, Oxford University, OPTICON, OpTIC/Glyndwr University, the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Astronomical Society, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), UPS2 Cranfield, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.
Dance video project partners:
- The Royal High School in Edinburgh is a state comprehensive school where many eminent scientists, artists and academics have been educated, including Alexander Graham Bell and Sir Walter Scott.
- Craig Thomson has worked over the last twenty years as an established artist, designer, photographer and film-maker.
- Joanne Thomson — Freelance Cultural Co-ordinator for Dance (Midlothian Council) and dance development artist.
- City of Edinburgh Creative Links Team is part of Arts and Learning, Children and Families, City of Edinburgh Council
Professor Colin Cunningham
UK Astronomy Technology Centre, STFC
Cell: +44 131 668 8223
Tel: +44 7718 737171
Dr. Isobel Hook
Tel: +44 7739 174455
UK Astronomy Technology Centre, STFC
Cell: +44 131 668 8406
Tel: +44 7821 800356
ESO, La Silla, Paranal and E-ELT Press Officer
Tel: +49 89 3200 6222
Cell: +49 174 515 43 24
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