SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Part of the Bolshoi ('large') altazimuth optical telescope at the Zelenchukskaya observatory, Russia. Situated in the Caucasus mountains, the telescope has an aperture of 6 metres, making it the largest single- mirror optical telescope in the world (as at 1993). The triangular objects around the mirror are protective doors. The telescope weighs over 800 tonnes, the mirror itself weighing 42 tonnes. The mirror was cast from glass; there are plans under study to replace this with a lighter, more thermally stable mirror made from Sital. Direct photography has been possible of objects of the 24th magnitude, though fainter objects may be visible with electronic systems.
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