Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 11:15 UK

Public viewings for new telescope

The new telescope at Cardiff University
The new telescope can view faint stars, planets and distant galaxies

Members of the public are to be invited to look through a new "state-of-the-art" telescope used to teach astronomy.

The 30,000 Cardiff University telescope, which is unveiled on Friday, is powerful enough to view faint stars, planets and distant galaxies.

It will be used by students at the university but there will also be public viewings in 2009, the international year of astronomy.

Built by a company in Conwy, the telescope has a half-metre diameter.

Observatory director Professor Derek Ward-Thompson said it was one of the most powerful telescopes in Wales.

He said it would be possible to view a postage stamp being held up at Castle Coch from the roof of the university's physics building in the city centre around six miles away.

"You couldn't read what's on the stamp but you could see it as a white pixel," he said.

"Unfortunately we can't see into the Millennium Stadium or we would be able to sell tickets!"

Professor Ward-Thompson said the telescope would also allow students to view the red spot on Jupiter and the polar ice cap on Mars.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn astronomy on what is essentially a research-class telescope," he said.

"It will also be a marvellous resource for the general public. They will be able to come and look through a state-of-the-art astronomical telescope.

"We very much hope that as many people as possible will take the chance to come along and look through the telescope on our open evenings throughout 2009."

It is hoped the first open night will be held towards the end of January.


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