Spend an L.A. Evening with the Giant Magellan Telescope

Pasadena, CA-Join a discussion with leading astronomers about how one of the world’s largest telescopes, the Giant Magellan Telescope, will help solve some of the most vexing problems in astronomy today—from the nature of dark energy and dark matter to finding signatures of life on other planets. The event will take place November 20, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA, from 1 to 5 PM. Tickets are $15 and include light refreshments. Journalists who register are admitted free.

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a product of more than 100 years of astronomical research and telescope building. It will be located at one of the world’s premier astronomical observing sites, the Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes. As one of the most powerful astronomical observatories, it will have more light gathering power than all of the current telescopes in Chile combined. The GMT will use the latest techniques in what is known as adaptive optics to remove blurring caused by the Earth’s atmosphere to produce visible and infrared images that are up to ten times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The unprecedented clarity and sensitivity of these images will provide astronomers with a powerful new tool to study still-unsolved mysteries of the universe, including the formation of planetary systems, the growth of black holes, even the evolutions of the universe.

The speakers are chairperson of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization board and director of the Carnegie Observatories, Wendy Freedman; Charles Alcock of Harvard University; Jacob Bean and Michael Gladders of the University of Chicago; and Juna Kollmeier and Josh Simon of Carnegie.

The GMT features an innovative design of seven 8.4 meter, or 27 foot, diameter primary mirrors arranged in a floral-like hexagon. The seven mirrors, six of which are off-axis, will work in concert to produce a single telescope 25 meters or 82 feet in diameter. The mirrors are being developed at the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory (SOML) at the University of Arizona.

The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) in Pasadena, CA manages the project on behalf of its international partners: Astronomy Australia Ltd., the Australian National University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, The University of Texas at Austin, and, the University of Chicago. For more information, visit www.gmto.org.