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Majestic photographs of the world's major telescopes

WITHOUT them, we would scarcely be able to comprehend the universe. Telescopes, whose majesty and complexity have been captured in these images by photographer Julian Abrams, are among astronomy’s most crucial instruments. They have opened our eyes to everything from the weather on distant planets to the workings of gravity.

The shots shown here are from Everything Beautiful Is Far Away, a project by Abrams in collaboration with astronomer Richard Ellis at University College London. It pays homage to the major telescopes of the world and their impressive housings.

The main image shows the Very Large Telescope in the Atacama desert, Chile, which is a complex of four instruments, each more than 8 metres across.

The image above is the Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. Below is shown the Cassegrain focus – effectively the lens – of the Subaru Telescope atop the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

Hexagonal mirror segments (needed to gather light to resolve distant objects) ARE SHOWN being prepared for one of the two Keck telescopes, also at Mauna Kea (pictured above); and a computer monitor for the Isaac Newton Telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in the Canary Islands, Spain, the oldest of the 20 telescopes on that site is pictured below.

These are structures that “would not look out of place on the harsh and dramatic fictional landscape of Tatooine”, writes Abrams in the accompanying book. “Standing as paeans to human achievement… these detached and futuristic masterpieces exist solely to serve their scientific function.”

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