Gran Telescopio Canarias – La Palma, Spain - Atlas Obscura

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Gran Telescopio Canarias

Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos

The world's largest single-aperture telescope resides in the Canary Islands.  


Ever since the invention of the telescope in 1608, there has been a constant urge to make larger models see further into space. While terrestrial telescopes often reach a limit of how much one person can carry, astronomical telescopes are not burdened by limitations.  The Gran Telescopio Canarias or Grantecan at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is one such example.

The telescope sports the largest single-aperture dish in the world, with a staggering 410 inches (10.4 meters) in diameter, 2.6 meters larger than The VLT. Construction on the telescope began in 2000 and took seven years and 130 million euros to complete. The mirror consists of 36 hexagonal mirrors, each of which can move on its own to combat the atmospheric dynamics.

Despite being the largest single-aperture telescope in the world, its scientific output is not as strong as its smaller cousin the VLT, this is largely due to the less optimal weather and less advanced instruments. 

Know Before You Go

Tours are available at the GTC via their website.

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July 5, 2022

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