Giant telescope sees back in time

April 23, 2006 at 10:29 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- Scientists in South Africa are using the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere to see 13 billion years back in time.

The Southern African Large Telescope, known as SALT, was inaugurated last fall in South Africa's Great Karoo desert to inaugurate the Southern African Large Telescope, The Washington Post reported.

The telescope can gather more than 25 times as much light as any existing telescope in Africa, enabling it to detect a candle flame as far away as the moon, the newspaper said.

The instrument sits in the middle of nowhere -- more than 10 miles away from the nearest town.

"At night with a new moon, you can't even see your feet," Kenneth Nordsieck, an astronomy professor at the University of Wisconsin and a principal investigator at SALT, told the newspaper. "But then you look up at the sky and see the Magellanic Clouds, and it's just awe-inspiring."

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