Looking at the stars: Georgia State owns highest resolution telescopes in the world

Harold McAlister, founder of the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy, is constantly visiting his creation, so much in fact that he has become a Delta million miler. This is because he has visited it more than 150 times.

Operated by Georgia State University, CHARA can detect the best resolution of stars in the world.

Consisting of six telescopes working together, these telescopes act as one, providing astronomers the highest resolution.

“[I wanted] to resolve things that couldn’t be seen before,” McAlister said. “When you look at stars that twinkle at night, they are not really twinkling, it’s the atmosphere above you.”

Now that it is becoming more and more popular, CHARA’s discoveries will soon be featured in Astronomy books. This is because the pictures CHARA takes are such high resolution.

These telescopes are located on Mount Wilson, California with their neighbor being the historical Hubble telescope, launched in 1990.

“The whole place just reeks of history, it’s beautiful,” McAlister said.

Astronomy professor, Deepak Raghavan became very familiar with the CHARA operating system when he had to write his Ph.D. thesis.

“I was looking for companion stars at a very close resolution. No other instrument other than CHARA could provide me with that,” Raghavan said.

He used CHARA for more than 80 nights to gather information and his results are now one of the firsts for the center.

“It was the shortest binary period ever resolved. It was just incredible,” McAlister said.

Being the popular place that CHARA is, tours are available regularly along with movies and commercials that are shot occasionally there.

“It’s a very popular place and we are trying to make it more popular,” McAlister said.