The camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope just got its approval for a final design phase this week, which is exiting news for all you space fans out there. When it's finished, the LSST camera will be the largest digital camera ever made, and it'll be able to image the entire visible sky every single week.
By 2024, the largest radio telescope ever will dot the landscape of either Australia or South Africa with thousands of antennae spread out over 2,000 miles. The Square Kilometre Array will record the equivalent of an Internet's worth of data twice a day, and IBM is building a computer that can handle it all.
This is a picture of a small patch of sky, taken by the European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). With the exception of a few stars, every single pixel of light in this image represents an entire galaxy, and you're looking at more than 200,000 of them.
Astronomers use two basic methods to find planets around other stars: watching to see if a star dims when a planet passes in front of it, and watching to see if a star wobbles when a planet orbits around it. Neither of these methods are very good at seeing planets directly, but a giant zeppelin-mounted aerial starshade might be able to change that.
Next week, NASA is planning on launching a new space-based telescope: the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (or NuSTAR), which will start looking at all kinds of exciting and high energy astrophysical phenomena that are busily blowing up and/or tearing space to shreds.
Andrew Cooper put together this video of the two Keck telescopes in action on top of Mauna Kea in Hawai'i. There are some beautiful time-lapse shots like in the pic above, but the reason to watch this video is for all the behind-the-scenes footage showing what telescopes like this have going on behind the mirror.
Each of the four individual telescopes in the ESA's Very Large Telescope are, by themselves, very capable. But by working together, they're supposed to be able to link up to effectively form one single massive telescope, and for the first time, this has actually worked.
With adaptive optics, ground-based telescopes are able to compensate for atmospheric distortions to bring their views of the universe up to par with space-based telescopes like Hubble. An absolutely monstrous new telescope is currently under construction, with a 28-foot mirror starting to be spun just this week.
We're not entirely sure what's out there beyond our solar system, but NASA is betting that it's going to be full of zebras or something, and they want to spend a special telescope out there to take a look around.
Astronomers in Chile have just fired up the ALMA radio telescope array for the very first time. ALMA is destined to be the largest, most expensive, and most powerful telescope array on the planet, and when the array of 66 telescopes is completed in 2013, ALMA will be able to resolve images of galaxies that are an incredible ten times sharper than the best that we can get from Hubble.