Friends only Lecture: Getting light from the darkness - the story o f the biggest telescopes.

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Getting light from the darkness - the story of the biggest telescopesDr Peter Grimley When it comes to telescopes, bigger has (almost) always been better. All through history, astronomers have realized that gathering more light meant seeing more and more interesting things. That is as true for today's astronomers as it was for Galileo. In this talk I will look at some of the world's biggest telescopes - from the early attempts to make accurate lenses, to the technological marvels that now inhabit some of the most outlandish places on Earth. Peter's career began in professional astronomy. He has a PhD in extragalactic astronomy from the University of Wales, and held research positions in academic institutions in Ireland. His main research interests were around star formation in nearby galaxies, and the evolution of active galaxies and quasars. He then changed direction and spent a number of years in the UK civil service developing UK and EU agriculture policy. In time he began to miss the feelings of awe and wonder that contemplating the Universe brings, and he left the civil service to become a freelance astronomy writer and presenter. Peter gives talks and presentations to a variety of audiences and contributes to the European Southern Observatory's public outreach programme. He has a deep interest in music, playing several instruments quite badly, and also enjoys photography, modern dance, horse-riding and chocolate. The lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the RAS Library.