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Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture Series: “The Quest for Infinite Telescope Aperture: Are We There Yet?”

The 2016-2017 Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture Series will continue today (Dec. 8) at 8 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Michael Skrutskie, professor and chair of the astronomy department at the University of Virginia, will present “The Quest for Infinite Telescope Aperture: Are We There Yet?”

Since the invention of the telescope in the Netherlands around the end of the 16th century, one thing has generally mattered most to builders and users of these instruments: Larger apertures collect more light and reveal finer detail. This ultimately opens the door to studies, including viewings of the most distant observable universe, the direct detection and characterization of extrasolar planets and “spacecraft quality” observations of Solar System objects.

Individual institutions, entire nations and now consortia of nations are striving to build bigger and better telescopes. What do we stand to gain from these billion dollar investments? What is the current state of the art and how is it revolutionizing astronomy as a science? When, if ever, do we reach the limits of affordability in the quest for immense collecting area? What do we do with all of those leftover “small” telescopes?

Skrutskie will attempt to answer these questions in his look through modern telescope technology and its scientific application.

Skrutskie directs a laboratory that designs and fabricates infrared imagers and spectrographs that enable the extraction of science from the photons collected by telescope aperture both large and small.

Through the support of the Arthur S. Holden, Sr. Endowment, the Department of Astronomy holds the Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture Series in cooperation with Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Astronomical Society.

More information on the series is available at