Twentieth Annual Great Lecture in Astronomy

A New Job for Telescopes: Making
Solar Electricity

Dr. Roger P. Angel

Director, Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory
Regents Professor of Astronomy and Optical Sciences
University of Arizona

February 11, 2012 · 1-2 PM
ACES Building [map] · Avaya Auditorium · Room 2.302
The University of Texas at Austin



Dr. Roger Angel has developed concepts and technology for some of the most powerful astronomical telescopes, including the Large Binocular Telescope and the planned Giant Magellan Telescope. Today he is working on a novel telescope that harvests solar energy by focusing sunlight onto small but powerful photovoltaic cells. These “energy telescopes” are designed for mass production in huge volume for solar farms, at a cost low enough to make unsubsidized solar electricity highly competitive.

The Speaker

Dr. Angel is Regents Professor of Astronomy and Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, where he directs the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a former MacArthur Fellow. He was a co-recipient of the 2010 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics for his contributions to the development of giant telescopes, and he founded REhnu Corporation, a solar energy startup company.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Angel has been in the forefront of a technological renaissance in telescopes and telescope optics. Under his direction, the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab located on the University of Arizona campus has made the optics for several telescopes, including the two largest mirrors ever (8.4 meters in diameter) for the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham, Arizona. The Lab is now making two equally large mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Dr. Angel developed concepts for imaging Earthlike planets around other stars, and for searching for evidence of primitive life on such planets, and technology for ultra-lightweight telescope mirrors for space. He has served on numerous national committees including the Board of Enquiry into the Hubble Space Telescope optics. Recently he has worked on issues related to global climate change, including the practicality of cooling the Earth with a space sunshade at the Earth-Sun Lagrangian point (L1). Currently he is working on telescopes to focus sunlight onto photovoltaic cells, with the goal of bringing down the cost of solar electricity to be competitive with fossil fuel, without subsidy.

dr. roger angel

Dr. Roger P. Angel