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Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) Australia's First Telescope

The Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) is a 3.9-metre equatorially mounted telescope operated by the Australian Astronomical Observatory and situated at the Siding Spring Observatory, Australia, at an altitude of a little over 1,100 m. It was the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere from 1974 to 1976, then a close second to the Víctor M. Blanco Telescope from 1976 until 1998, when the first ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) was opened.

The AAT was credited with stimulating a resurgence in British optical astronomy. It was built by the United Kingdom in partnership with Australia but has been entirely funded by Australia since 2010. Observing time is available to astronomers worldwide. The AAT was one of the last large telescopes built with an equatorial mount.

The AAT has made many important scientific discoveries, including:

  • The first images of the Magellanic Clouds, a pair of dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way.
  • The first detection of quasars, extremely distant and bright objects that are powered by supermassive black holes.
  • The first evidence of dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up about 85% of the matter in the universe.
  • The discovery of more than 40 planets orbiting nearby stars.

The AAT is still a very productive telescope, and it is expected to continue making important discoveries for many years to come.

Here are some additional facts about the AAT:

  • It has a primary mirror that is 3.9 meters in diameter.
  • It is equipped with a variety of instruments, including spectrographs, cameras, and adaptive optics systems.
  • It can track objects that move across the sky at speeds of up to 7 degrees per second.
  • It has been used to observe objects that are billions of light-years away.

The AAT is a powerful tool for exploring the universe, and it has made many important scientific discoveries. It is a valuable asset to the astronomical community, and it is expected to continue making important contributions for many years to come.

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