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Giant Telescopes


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Beautiful and Cantankerous Instruments 1. Leo and Jesse's Changing World 2. Tradition and Balance 3. Visions of Grandeur 4. Paper Telescopes 5. Growing Pains 6. Astropolitics 7. Smoke and Mirrors 8. Joining the 8-Meter Club 9. Point-and-Click Astronomy Conclusion: Telescopes, Postwar Science, and the Next Big Machine Giant Telescopes Sources Abbreviations Notes Acknowledgments Index

Promotional Information

This vivid history of modern telescope building focuses on the turbulence, tension and triumph of building the Gemini 8-meter telescopes. Strong personalities, scientific opportunities, technological advances, and institutional rivalries are sharply etched and skillfully illuminated by McCray's deep reading of the record. As astronomers plunge headfirst into the next round of giant telescope building, this book should be on the required reading list. -- Robert P. Kirshner, author of The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos

About the Author

W. Patrick McCray is an assistant professor in the History Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara. This is his second book.


[An] insightful history of how ground-based telescopes have evolved and flourished over the past 50 years. [McCray's] tale begins with the 200-inch Hale telescope at California's Palomar Mountain, built in 1948, and ends with the twin 8-metre Gemini telescopes on mountains in Chile and Hawaii, completed in 2002. New Scientist 20040529 This tale of the giant eyes on the sky that are revolutionising our knowledge of the universe reveals a fascinating piece of science policy and science history. -- Martin Ince Times Higher Education Supplement 20040723 This is an exceptionally readable history of the 50-years-plus evolution of large ground-based telescopes from the era of 'cowboy' astronomers to the present day. Historian Patrick McCray shows how profound changes in the sociology of astronomy alternately drove or reflected the development of giant telescopes in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. -- Stephen P. Maran Sky and Telescope 20040801 In astronomy, phrases such as 'thinking big' don't even begin to cover the situation. Fewer than 100 years ago, this galaxy was all there was but stargazers have pushed the universal population count to about 200bn galaxies so far--each with maybe 200bn stars--and extended the boundaries of the visible universe to about 13 bn light years. So a book about the academic bickering, muddled finance and international finesse behind the instruments that widened human horizons should be welcome. Even better, this heavenly topic has its share of drama and comedy. -- Tim Radford The Guardian 20040902 Select illustrations, a helpful table of giant telescopes, notes, and a list of sources complete a well-written, authoritative, and important study. -- Joseph N. Tatarewicz Technology and Culture

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