A bit of history and a bit of the future

News came today about the expansion of the team behind the Square Kilometre Array. SKA will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world on completion, surveying the heavens with 50 times the sensitivity of present radio telescopes and 10,000 times the speed. Construction is expected to start in early 2016.

At the same time, news has also come of the first English translation of The Book of the Fixed Stars by the Iranian astronomer Abdul-Rahman al-Sufi. This survey of the night sky is a little older, more than a thousand years older, than anything produced today, and only ran to sources in optical light at magnitude six and above for obvious reasons, but was just as significant in its time as anything the space telescopes churn out today.

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