Liverpool Telescope

Liverpool Telescope
Image of the Liverpool Telescope
Credit: LT

The moving structure of the LT is 8.5 metres tall, 6.5 metres wide and weighs around 24 metric tonnes. This is built around a 2 metre diameter mirror designed to collect and direct light towards a set of instruments. The telescope is protected from the elements by a shelter, or telescope dome, that works like a clam shell.

Unlike most telescopes, the LT is capable of observing without any human intervention. After sunset, the telescope systems look at the weather conditions, and if suitable, the telescope will open up and start working its way efficiently through the list of observations sent to it during the daytime.

The Liverpool Telescope is housed in a special enclosure, which is designed to open and close reliably when the weather is suitable. A conventional dome enclosure is not always that reliable and astronomers on site sometimes have to help its operation.

The LT Enclosure
Credit: LJMU/ARI

When the enclosure is open the Liverpool Telescope is directly exposed to the night air. Air trapped inside normal telescope dome enclosures tends to heat up slightly causing some turbulence. This results in poorer images of the stars. The unique design of the Liverpool Telecope enclosure overcomes this by maintaining airflow.

The telescope was conceived, funded, designed and built in Merseyside by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), but due to the inclement weather in the UK, it is located on a small volcanic island off the coast of Africa.