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ESOcast 16: E-ELT Site Chosen.
On 26 April 2010, the ESO Council selected Cerro Armazones as the site for the planned 42-metre European Extremely Large Telescope. Cerro Armazones is an isolated mountain at 3060 metres altitude in the central part of Chile's Atacama Desert, some 130 kilometres south of the town of Antofagasta and about 20 kilometres away from Cerro Paranal, home of ESOs Very Large Telescope.
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"This is an important milestone that allows us to finalise the baseline design of this very ambitious project, which will vastly advance astronomical knowledge," says Tim de Zeeuw, ESOs Director General. "I thank the site selection team for the tremendous work they have done over the past few years."
ESOs next step is to build a European extremely large optical/infrared telescope (E-ELT) with a primary mirror 42 metres in diameter. The E-ELT will be "the worlds biggest eye on the sky" — the only such telescope in the world. ESO is drawing up detailed construction plans together with the community. The E-ELT will address many of the most pressing unsolved questions in astronomy, and may, eventually, revolutionise our perception of the Universe, much as Galileo's telescope did 400 years ago. The final go-ahead for construction is expected at the end of 2010, with the start of operations planned for 2018.
The decision on the E-ELT site was taken by the ESO Council, which is the governing body of the Organisation composed of representatives of ESOs fourteen Member States, and is based on an extensive comparative meteorological investigation, which lasted several years. The majority of the data collected during the site selection campaigns will be made public in the course of the year 2010.