T Astronomers have always used both optical and radio telescopes to see and hear the universe. Now a new project will combine both types of telescopes to combine the two senses so that scientists can get a more complete picture of the universe in real time.
MeerLICHT – that's Dutch for "more light" – is a new full-robotic telescope that uses a 65-centimeter main mirror and a 100-megapixel camera, which was unveiled on Friday near Sutherland, South Africa which lies a few hours northeast of Cape Town. The telescope differs in that it is connected to the MeerKAT, a radio telescope consisting of 64 courts and 200 kilometers away. Both telescopes will scan the southern sky in matching fields of view. The project will be the first of its kind and size to both hear and see into space.
"This telescope will follow observations and discoveries when made by a radio telescope 24/7." Dr. Phil Mjwara, director-general of the South African Department of Science and Technology, said eyewitness news . "They would have to wait years to obtain such a telescope and then follow the observations of the findings made by the radio telescope, which would almost immediately be done."
Six years ago, scientists from South Africa, the Netherlands, and the UK began this project to work. The telescope was unveiled on May 25, Africa Day in South Africa.
MeerLICHT and MeerKat will be part of the South Africa Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which will use thousands of tiny antennas several thousand kilometers away, acting as a giant radio telescope. The first observation for the SKA project will be in 2022.
Telescopes are not only growing larger on Earth, they are also growing in space. The James Webb telescope will be huge, but NASA also has very early plans for a telescope that is even bigger and can assemble itself.