Groundbreaking for the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) took place Tuesday, July 12. A joint venture between Discovery Communications and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, the telescope presents opportunities for education programming and research. The telescope is located about 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff.
The partnership between a research facility and a broadcast company hopes to increase public awareness of astronomical science. As Lowell Observatory Director Bob Millis told Astronomy, “Discovery [Communications] is expert at making science accessible and interesting to a broad audience. No other major telescope partnership includes a media giant dedicated to telling the story of building the telescope and, subsequently, bringing the research results of the telescope to the public in an ongoing entertaining and interesting fashion.”
With its suite of sophisticated instruments, the DCT will be able to broadcast its observations in real-time. “Discovery and Lowell Observatory,” Discovery Communications Founder and Chairman John Hendricks said, “will bring the most exciting new discoveries found in our universe to millions of people around the globe.”
At prime focus, the 4.2-meter DCT will be able to image an area of sky 16 Full Moons (8°) wide — a larger field of view than any current similar-size telescope. When completed, the DCT will be the fifth-largest telescope in the continental United States.