PHOTOS: World's Largest Telescope Unveiled

PHOTOS: World's Largest Telescope Unveiled
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Like a high-tech pearl on the half-shell, the GTC is framed by its protective dome surrounded by a sea of nighttime clouds.

The new observatory--inaugurated on July 31, 2009--sits 7,874 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level on the Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point on the tiny island of La Palma, the northwesternmost member of the Canary Islands (see map).

The site has little light pollution, mostly cloud-free skies, and a thin atmosphere, making it ideal for optical and infrared astronomy.
—Photograph by Pablo Bonet
 
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