Simonyi Survey Telescope

The goal of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction in Chile, is to conduct a 10-year optical survey of the visible sky that will deliver a 500 petabyte set of images and data products that will address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe and the objects in it.

Rubin Observatory is a remarkable engineering and technical achievement, the result of many years of work by a diverse team of skilled experts in a variety of fields.

The 8.4-meter Simonyi Survey Telescope features a unique three-mirror design. This gives the telescope an exceptionally wide field of view, while maintaining a compact shape that allows it to move quickly across the sky. The design and construction of Rubin Observatory took more than a decade, with contributions from hundreds of individuals around the world. 

The Simonyi Survey Telescope is named after Charles Simonyi's family, in recognition of his significant gift early in the construction phase in support of the design, development, and fabrication of the telescope’s primary mirror.

A team of engineers and technicians at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory constructed the LSST Camera, the largest digital camera ever built for astronomy. The camera is roughly the size of a small car and weighs almost 6200 lbs (2800 kg). 

The focal plane consists of 189 charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors arranged on 21 “rafts” for a combined 3200 megapixels.

Every night, Rubin Observatory’s intricate data network, designed and built by a distributed team of data management experts, will move 20 terabytes of data from the summit of Cerro Pachón in Chile to the US Data Facility and then to other data processing facilities around the world.  

Rubin Observatory is supported by funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). Rubin Observatory is operated by NSF’s NOIRLab and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

For scientists more details can be found on the Rubin Construction Project website.


Simonyi Survey Telescope

Name(s) Simonyi Survey Telescope
Status Under construction
First Ten Year Survey  Legacy Survey of Space and Time
Science Themes used to drive the Rubin System Design
  • Understanding Dark Matter and Dark Energy
  • Hazardous Asteroids and the Remote Solar System
  • The Transient Optical Sky
  • The Formation and Structure of the Milky Way
Science Collaborations and active areas of research development
  • Stars, Milky Way, and Local Volume Science
  • Transients and Variable Stars Science
  • AGN Science
  • Dark Energy Science
  • Solar System Science
  • Galaxies Science
  • Strong Lensing Science
  • Informatics and Statistical Science 
Site El Peñon, Cerro Pachón, Chile
Location Coordinates 30º 14.7’S
Altitude ‎2663 meters (8737 feet)
Enclosure 30-meter Rotating Dome 
Type Optical telescope
Optical Design Reflecting telescope
Field of View 3.5-degree field of view covering a 64 cm diameter flat focal plane
Diameter: Primary M1 8.4 meters 
Material: Primary M1 Honeycomb structure with Ohara E6 low-expansion glass
Diameter: Secondary M2 3.42 meters (largest convex mirror ever made)
Material: Secondary M2 100 mm-thick solid blank made of low expansion glass
Diameter: Tertiary M3 5.0 meters
Material: Tertiary M3 Honeycomb structure with Ohara E6 low-expansion glass
Mount 16-meter telescope pier
First Light Date 2024
Camera 3.2 gigapixel camera, and an automated data processing system

Please help us to complete this page by emailing information and corrections to

Updated on April 18, 2023, 5:51 am