Intel founder Gordon Moore donates $200 million to build world’s largest optical telescope!

Intel Corp. founder Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty, have donated 200 million U.S. dollars to build the world’s largest optical telescope. The donation went to Caltech (California Institute of Technology) and the University of California. The telescope will have a mirror nearly 100 feet across and three times the size of the current record holder. The technology will be similar to that used in the twin 10-meter Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, currently the largest optical telescopes in the world. The new telescope will feature a large central mirror comprising 492 individual hexagon-shaped mirrors, each about 4.8 feet across and about 1.8 inches thick — a little smaller and thinner than those in the Keck telescopes.

The final design for the Thirty-Meter Telescope, as it is called, is expected to be completed by March 2009, with construction to begin soon after and completion expected in 2017. Five sites are being considered for the installation include three sites in Chile, one in Baja California and one on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The plan is to select the site by next May.