A Legacy of Exploration
Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in 1522 was the first to circumnavigate the earth, completing one of the most ambitious feats of exploration at the time. Astronomy was the primary source of navigation for these explorers and, like many explorers of the day, Magellan was a student of astronomy.
In the Southern hemisphere, the expedition noticed large clouds in the night sky, not visible from Europe. These clouds were later named The Magellanic Clouds.
As history unfolded, many famous scientists drew inspiration from the great explorers. One was George Ellery Hale, the famous American astronomer and pioneering telescope builder who founded the Carnegie Observatories. In the 1920s, Hale’s telescopes would reveal our modern universe and set the stage for even larger telescopes like the GMT. Those “clouds” Magellan and his crew saw turned out to be separate “island universes,” composed of millions of stars, which orbit our own Milky Way galaxy.
The Giant Magellan Telescope will continue in this tradition of exploration and the pursuit of intellectual curiosity set forth 500 years ago. In a very real sense, the Giant Magellan Telescope will also set sail into the unknown — in search of new worlds.