Where is the biggest telescope in the world?

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It's hard to answer this because of the way modern telescopes are constructed. In the largest current scopes, multiple mirrors are used; depending on your prejudices, those may or may not "count." Also, it's possible to combine the light from two or more telescopes considerable distances apart to obtain greater light-gathering capability and a longer baseline for interferometry. I'm going to ignore interferometers except where their components are worthy of consideration in their own right. The best candidates are:
  • Large Binocular Telescope at Mount Graham Observatory, Arizona, US: twin 8.4 m mirrors on a single mount, equivalent to an 11.7 m single mirror.
  • Gran Telescopio Canarias, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain: 10.4 m segmented mirror.
  • Very Large Telescope, European Southern Observatory's Paranal facility, Cerro Paranal, Chile: 4 separate 8.2 m telescopes. They can be linked as an interferometer, but each of the individual scopes is tied for largest single-mirror scope with:
  • Subaru Telescope, operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan but physically located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, US: 8.2 m, largest single-mirror scope (tie).
The largest optical scopes in actual full operation as of August 2009 (LBT and GTC, though both already in use, are not yet fully functional) are Keck 1 and Keck 2, Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, US (10 m each; they can also be linked as an interferometer).

The Giant Magellan Scope of Las Campanas Observatory in Chile (currently in planning stages; projected completion date 2018) will have 7 8.4 m mirrors (equivalent to a 21.4 m single mirror). All optical scopes are dwarfed by the largest radio scopes: China's FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope), under construction in Guizhou, China and slated for completion in 2013, will have a diameter of ... well, 500 m, and Russia's RATAN-600 near Nizhny Arkhyz, Russia is a set of 895 individual reflectors spread over a 576 m circle. The largest refracting optical telescope is comparatively puny: the 40" (1.02 m) scope at Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin, US, built in 1897 (not a typo; it's over a hundred years old) is the largest that still exists. A 1.2 m scope was built for the 1900 Exhibition in Paris, France as an exhibition piece, but was not well suited for scientific observation and was scrapped around 1910.probley the biggest telescope is either Soho or Hubble.
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