The European Southern Observatory (ESO) - an organisation for astronomy supported by fifteen countries - is to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting this week in Garching, Germany, the ESO Council approved construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope Programme, pending agreement with the governments of some member states.
Built on a mountain top in Chile, its 39.3m main mirror will be more than four times the width of today's best optical telescopes. It will be powerful enough to study the atmospheres of exoplanets, and will provide major insights into the nature of black holes, as well as galaxy formation, the mysterious dark matter, and the even more mysterious dark energy which is pushing the universe apart at an accelerating rate. The E-ELT will begin operations in 2022.