Astronomy and astrophysics—big glass

Enable UChicago astronomers to make significant new discoveries through access to the world’s most advanced telescopes

Shortly after joining the University in 1892, George Ellery Hale built three telescopes, at the time, the largest of their kind. Today, professor John Carlstrom measures cosmic background radiation—evidence of the Big Bang—with the South Pole Telescope, managed by an international collaboration led by the University of Chicago. In 2020, construction will be completed in the Chilean Andes Mountains on the Giant Magellan Telescope, a segmented-mirror scope with more than six times the light-gathering area of the current world’s largest telescope. The University of Chicago has pledged a significant stake in the GMT as well as in the two existing Magellan telescopes, ensuring that UChicago astronomers and astrophysicists have access to the best observational equipment in the world.

The department’s past, present, and future depend on breaking the technological barriers to the data vital to exploring the universe’s most fundamental mysteries. In particular, these next-generation telescopes will allow UChicago astronomers and astrophysicists to explore galaxy formation in the early universe and discover and characterize exoplanets. The department needs the brightest and most imaginative minds to interpret these ultra-precise data and make sense of unanticipated observations. Your donation will ensure continued access to the most powerful instruments and help recruit and retain scholars who will realize the promise of the discoveries these advanced telescopes make possible.