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Lhasa museum-goers to access China-made astronomical telescope

LHASA, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Amateur astronomers will be able to observe the Milky Way through the largest astronomical telescope for popular sciences in China in a museum in Lhasa from May.

With a telescope lens of 1 meter in diameter, the instrument was independently designed and developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yao Yongqiang, chief scientist with the China National Astronomical Observatories, said the telescope to be fixed in the Tibet Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest of its kind installed in a public venue in the country.

The design and production of the high-precision device cost 20 million yuan (3.2 million U.S. dollars).

Du Enshe, deputy head of the Tibet Regional Association of Sciences, said a planetarium is under construction within the Tibet Museum of Natural Sciences. The planetarium, set to open in May, will provide public access to the new telescope.

Dubbed the "Roof of the World" on account of its position 4,000 meters above sea level, Tibet has superb atmospheric transparency, and is ideal for astronomical observation.

Lhasa got an even more high-profile telescope last year, when the outskirts of the city were chosen as the site to erect the state-of-the-art KOSMA telescope, a 3-meter sub-millimeter-wave instrument. Jointly developed by Chinese and German scientists, the KOSMA telescope is used for professional study of subjects including molecular clouds and star formations.

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