The largest telescope in Eurasia, originally from the USSR (Topic)

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The largest telescope in Eurasia, originally from the USSR


The USSR was one of the leaders in space exploration - many people know about it. However, there is another "heavenly" branch - astronomy, where the Soviet Union was also among the first.

Championship in optics

For a long time, the USSR was considered the owner of the world's largest telescope BTA (transcript - Large Azimuthal Telescope). The device was designed and built using exclusively domestic developments, which brought the country leadership in the industry in the creation of large-size optical instruments.


The decision to build was made in 1960 . The chief engineer of the unique telescope was Bagrat Ioannisiani, a Soviet designer of astronomical instruments, Doctor of Technical Sciences. The initial task was to select a location for the installation of the future giant. After the analysis, the choice fell on a mountain plateau with a height of 2,100 meters in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic (Zelenchuksky district, not far from Mount Pastukhov). High optical technologies

Many devices that made up the BTA have become innovative for their time, for example, a guiding system (accurate positioning of a telescope), which includes complex photo and television instruments, the main spectrograph of a device with a diameter of 2 meters. The entire operation of the system was controlled by specialized computer equipment.


Construction of the observatory began in 1967. The grandiose project envisaged a whole complex, including the buildings of the observatory itself with a telescope, houses for scientists, a power unit, water supply and power supply systems, a number of other objects, as well as the construction of a mountain roads for transporting large loads. The total area of the entire complex was 50 hectares.

The BTA telescope tower, located in the construction complex, had a diameter of 45 meters and a height of 53 meters. All the main work on the construction of the BTA was completed by 1971, after which the installation of the entire structure began. In 1972, the device was adopted by a specialized State Commission.

The stars are closer

Test operation of BTA was carried out in 1974-1975. Scientific research of the apparatus was carried out in the process of experimental astronomical observations. The main problem in the use of BTA was the protection of its main optical glass from all kinds of deformations due to temperature differences. For this purpose, the temperature of the room where the telescope tower was located was regulated by an air conditioning system.


Despite the atmospheric conditions of the location and temperature phenomena, the BTA remained an important scientific apparatus, capable of seeing celestial objects of the 26th magnitude. The new Soviet telescope was respected by the scientific world community, remaining the largest instrument for observing stars until the end of the 90s. However, one of the Soviet records has not yet been broken - the BTA dome is still the largest astronomical dome in the world.

The Topic of Article: The largest telescope in Eurasia, originally from the USSR.
Author: Jake Pinkman