Through a mirror-fluidly

Canada's LZT is located at a University of British Columbia research park near Vancouver. As a LMT, it ranks among the largest optical telescopes on Earth. And compared to similar sized conventional-mirror instruments, the LZT was inexpensive to construct, thanks in part, to cannibalized parts from a defunct U.S. telescope.

"The Large Zenith Telescope project began in 1994, as a collaboration between scientists at UBC, Laval University and the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris," according to Dr. Paul Hickson, LZT's director . "The principal scientific goals of the project are to measure spectral energy distributions and redshifts of over 100,000 galaxies and quasars, and to detect distant supernovae. These observations will allow us to study cosmology, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the evolution of galaxies."

LZT astronomers received used parts from NASA's own narrowband (zenith) Orbital Debris Observatory telescope in New Mexico. The defunct Orbital Debris Observatory ceased operations thanks to the U.S. Congress pulling the plug on its vital space-junk observation program.

In the 22nd century, liquid mirror telescopes may be built on the Moon. The frigid surface temperatures at the lunar poles are ideal for LMTs. LMTs on the Moon would gather far red-shifted light-so-called long-wave infrared light-coming from the extreme depths of space and time.

What's in the Sky: This weekend, after sunset in the S.E., a small telescope will reveal Saturn and its big moon Titan. Look for the tiny orange "star" east of bright Saturn. Titan contains more hydrocarbon material than all of Earth's oil and natural gas reserves.

Lou Varricchio, M.Sc., was a senior science writer at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. He is currently a member of the NASA-JPL Solar System Ambassador program in Vermont. He received the U.S. Civil Air Patrol's Maj. Gen. Chuck Yeager Aerospace Education Achievement Award recently. He is available for public presentations at no charge. You can e-mail him at: aerospacehorizons@gmail.com.

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