Australian Institute of Physics

South Australian Branch

Joint meeting
Joint meeting with the Astronomical Society of SA
Wednesday, October 6th, 2004, at 8:00pm
in the Kerr Grant lecture theatre,
Physics building, University of Adelaide

Dr Jon Lawrence
Department of Astrophysics and Optics
School of Physics
University of New South Wales

"An Extremely Cold Extremely Large Telescope"

The continued exploration of many key areas of astrophysics requires telescopes capable of higher resolution and sensitivity than that currently achievable with the largest 8-10 m telescopes. This has necessitated several proposals for the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) with main mirrors in the 20-100 m diameter range. Prohibitive costs of large mass space missions mean such telescopes must be sited on the ground. It is thus essential to build these telescopes at the best sites as performance will be strongly dependent on atmospheric conditions. Many reasons suggest that sites on the Antarctic plateau, such as Dome C, offer superior atmospheric conditions to the best mid-latitude sites (in Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Chile, and Mexico). This talk will introduce the main ELT projects, discuss atmospheric properties important for their siting, and explain the benefits of the Antarctic plateau.