A Flying Telescope!

How I resisted calling this “Eye in the Sky” I don’t know. But yeah, Universe Today is all excited about SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), the new flying telescope, getting one step closer to the heavens:

SOFIA is a converted 747SP airliner that used to carry passengers for United Airlines and Pan Am, but now only has one voyager: an infrared telescope.

Cloudy nights, normally the bane of observational astronomy, will not impede the ability of SOFIA. Other advantages are that scientists will be able to add specialized observing instruments for specific observations, and fly to anywhere in the world.

The telescope is 10 feet across, and weighs around 19 tons. It will look through a 16-foot high door in the fuselage to study planetary atmospheres, star formation and comets in the infrared spectrum.