University of Minnesota Joins the Large Binocular Telescope Team

Jan. 10, 2001


TUCSON, Ariz. --The University of Minnesota announced today that it has joined the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) project. Minnesota will receive viewing time on the LBT through an alliance with Research Corporation, a Tucson science advancement foundation that is a partner in the LBT. With this new relationship, Minnesota becomes the fourth U.S. university system involved in the project, along with the University of Arizona, The Ohio State University and the University of Notre Dame.

"Minnesota's participation in the LBT further verifies the scientific importance and achievement made possible through the completion of the most advanced telescope in the world. We are very pleased that Minnesota will be part of this exciting endeavor," said Peter Strittmatter, director of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona.

In announcing the agreement, Leonard Kuhi, department of astronomy chair for the University of Minnesota said, "The LBT will have ten times better resolution and 25 times more light collecting area than the Hubble Space Telescope. Having access to an instrument of this nature gives a tremendous boost to the work of our faculty and students."

The LBT is in its fourth year of construction and is on schedule to begin observing in 2003-2004. It is located on Mt. Graham near Safford, Ariz., and upon completion will be the most powerful ground-based telescope in the world.

The LBT has an approximate construction budget of $80 million. The telescope will utilize two 8.4-meter (28 feet) mirrors, both of which have already been cast at the University of Arizona's Mirror Lab. Partners in the LBT include the University of Arizona, The Ohio State University, Notre Dame University, Research Corporation, a German consortium of astronomical research institutes and the Arcetri Astrophysical Institute on behalf of the Italian astronomical community.

More facts -$5 Million Gift from Hubbard Broadcasting for Telescope
The gift

  • $5 million from Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. to the department of astronomy
  • Will buy a 5 percent share in the Large Binocular Telescope, facilitated by the Research Corporation.


  • The Telescope

    • Called the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) because it uses two giant mirrors, each larger than any other in the world.
    • Each mirror has a diameter of 8.4 meters and weighs 20 tons.
    • Will be the world's most powerful telescope when it is ready for operation in 2003-2004, with 10 times greater resolution than the Hubble Space Telescope.
    • Being built on Mount Graham, near Safford, AZ, at the Mount Graham International Observatory. The site is at an elevation of 10,400 feet and is home to several other international telescope projects.
    • Will be equipped with adaptive optics to correct for atmospheric distortion.
    • Features a technically advanced binocular design and state-of-the-art optics.
    • The aperture of the LBT is equivalent to a single mirror 11.8 meters in diameter.
    • The LBT's angular resolution (or sharpness of images) is equivalent to a single mirror 22.8 meters in diameter.
    • The mirrors, already cast at the Steward Observatory's Mirror Lab, are lightweight spun-cast honeycomb structure, were designed and built using an innovative technology that allows for their giant size.
    • The Steward Observatory is part of the College of Science of the University of Arizona.


    The Research Consortium

    • The University of Minnesota is buying a 5 percent share in the LBT Consortium, an international partnership of universities and research institutes. Other members include the University of Arizona, which leads the consortium, Ohio State University, the University of Notre Dame, the Research Corporation and partners in Italy and Germany.
    • The Research Corporation is a not-for-profit foundation that supports research in science and science education. It has played a key role in ensuring that the LBT Project could proceed. For information about the Research Corporation see http://www.rescorp.org/

    More information on the University of Minnesota astronomy department is available on the web at http://www.astro.umn.edu/

For information about the telescope and its construction, or for images of the telescope contact Peter Wehinger, staff astronomer, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, 520-621-7662 pwehinger@as.arizona.edu.

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