From Galileo to the Thirty Meter Telescope: Four Centuries of Challenge and Scientific Discovery

Professor Richard Ellis

Steele Professor of Astronomy

California Institute of Technology

Abstract of Lecture:

Just over 400 years ago the optical telescope was turned to the heavens launching a revolution in science. The quest for larger, more powerful, telescopes soon followed and has been driven by technical progress in large optics and engineering as well as the insatiable desire of astronomers to study ever fainter, more distant objects in detail. The Thirty Meter Telescope, a proposed giant successor to the twin 10 meter Keck telescopes to be completed in 2018, represents the latest chapter in this story. The science motivation and technical challenges of this facility will be described in the context of the remarkable progress made in astronomy over the past 400 years.

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Richard Ellis studied at London and Oxford Universities and has served as a professor and head of department at Durham and Cambridge Universities. He moved to Caltech in 1999 to assist in the development of the Thirty Meter Telescope project and was Director, Caltech Optical Observatories from 2000-2006. His research is concerned with tracing the emergence of the first galaxies seen when the Universe was less than 5% of its present age. He is a regular user of the Keck telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope. Ellis is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Commander of the British Empire.