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Keck II dedicated in mountaintop ceremony

17 Jun 2002

The 10-meter Keck II Telescope was dedicated in a mountaintop ceremony on Wednesday, May 8. With its and its five-year-old twin Keck I, the Keck is the world's largest optical telescope. Edward C. Stone, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and chair of the board of directors of the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA), which owns and operates the telescopes, led the ceremony inside the Keck II dome on the summit of Mauna Kea, a 13,796-foot dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Keck II Telescope, like its sibling Keck I, uses a mirror composed of 36 hexagonal pieces of glass, individually polished and assembled to form a perfectly parabolic reflecting surface with an effective diameter of 10 meters, or nearly 33 feet. This segmented mirror is much thinner, and therefore lighter in weight, than a solid mirror could be, which is the key to building such a large instrument. Working together, Keck I and Keck II have the potential to work together as an interferometer to acquire extremely high-resolution images. Some 85 meters apart, Keck I and II have a resolution equivalent to a telescope with an 85-meter mirror, or about 0.005 arc seconds at a wavelength of 2 microns.

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