‘We put everything into it.’ Modest telescope could have big impact on Turkish science

For Science Magazine:

ISTANBUL — International megaprojects that cost well over $1 billion generate most of the excitement in observational astronomy today: the 39-meter Extremely Large Telescope under construction in Chile, for example, or the Thirty Meter Telescope, controversial because of its proposed location on Mauna Kea, a mountain sacred to some Native Hawaiians.

But smaller telescopes still do cutting-edge science as well. And Turkish scientists are eagerly awaiting the completion of the new Eastern Anatolia Observatory (DAG), a 4-meter optical and infrared telescope expected to come online next year. Its main structure is scheduled to be shipped to the site, a 3170-meter mountaintop in northeastern Turkey, this month; polishing and grinding of the primary mirror is nearly done.

Despite its modest $34 million price tag, DAG will be one of Asia’s largest optical telescopes and Turkey’s largest science project. Its developers hope DAG will make Turkey a regional astronomy hub and help nurture its astronomy community. “We are dreaming of using the instruments on DAG,” says Ozgur Basturk, an exoplanet scientist at Ankara University. “With a 4-meter telescope, we can do much better and be more competitive in our field.”

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