Synopsis

If technology, cost, and terrain permitted, scientists seeking key data on stars in our galaxy would have loved to construct a behemoth 330 m wide telescope atop Mount Wilson, just northeast of Los Angeles. Instead, they arranged six smaller telescopes over an identical area, synchronizing the light to achieve an equally superlative resolution. Called the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA), the array uses the technique of interferometry to spot details the size of a nickel seen from 16,000 km away. Hear from project astronomers why the labyrinthine engineering required for CHARA’s renowned precision is a small sacrifice for the valuable data it gleans on the properties and life cycles of stars.