GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will display a replica of the Gran Telescopio Canarias, the world’s largest telescope, Nov. 7-12 in its central gallery. The exhibit is free and on loan from the University of Florida Astronomy Department.

The actual telescope belongs in part to the University of Florida, which will form an international partnership with Spain and Mexico to construct it in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Expected completion is in 2008. The telescope will allow astronomers to view the farthest limits of the observable universe and study the formation and evolution of galaxies.

The Florida Museum also is hosting two free public programs while the model is on display.

From 2 p.m. to sunset on Nov. 8, the Alachua Astronomy Club will give presentations and telescope viewings of the transit of Mercury as this planet crosses the face of the sun for the first time since 2003.

Visitors to Museum Nights from 5-10 p.m. on Nov. 9 can enjoy face painting, create their own astronomy work of art, learn how astronomers use instruments to capture pictures with the telescope and ask experts about the study of space.

Media contact: Paul Ramey, (352) 846-2000,
Writer: Stacy Acquista