The new eyes on infrared skies launched

There was an article in the Times this weekend on the new VISTA infrared telescope – the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy. This new telescope operates on the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in Chile and was built by a consortium of eighteen UK universities at a cost of £37 million. This week saw it being handed over for operations.

Meanwhile, earlier today, a different kind of infrared survey telescope was launched, quite literally. WISE is a space telescope that will slowly build up an image of the entire sky in infrared light from orbit. With UKIRT in Hawaii also turning to survey operations (as part of STFC’s cuts program, which will then lead to the closure of that facility), I begin to wonder where the more target specific operations are to take place…

If you want an idea of the difference in the night sky when viewed in infrared as opposed to visible light (or x-ray, microwave, radio and hydrogen alpha (red)) then the Chromoscope is here to help. The two telescopes above will look a little deeper at better resolution than the chromoscope image and will also be searching for things that change in the night through repeated surveys.

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