Naming Telescopes

In the SETI (Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence), a good telescope is invaluable.  In fact, the use of a telescope seems to confirm the anthropic principle:  the universe exists only because we are here to perceive it. 

To perceive is also to name.  The world’s largest telescope is at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.  It is referred to as VLT.   According to the European Southern Observatory webpage, the VLT array is “the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy at the beginning of the third Millennium.”  An even larger, proposed telescope is called EELT.

What does VLT mean?  Something spacey like “Vortex Longitudinal Telescope”?  No.  It means VERY LARGE TELESCOPE.  And EELT?  EELT is the European EXTREMELY LARGE Telescope. 

Astronomers may be able to imagine extraterrestial life, but they are very bad at naming their equipment.


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