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Why the Large Binocular Telescope at Mount Graham Was Controversial
Located in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains at an altitude of about 7,545 feet, the Large Binocular Telescope operates under an international collaboration between the U.S., Italy, and Germany. Its mission is to cover the full range of modern astrophysics, from exoplanets to the high-redshift universe, but the road to first light was not an easy one for the binocular telescope.
The telescope’s construction on Mount Graham in the 1990s faced opposition from the San Carlos Apache tribe who claimed ancient rights to the land and from environmentalists concerned about the observatory’s impact on national parks and wildlife. However, based on the U.S. Forest Service’s wildlife and cultural impact studies, the project was allowed to proceed.
Such controversies aren’t unusual and new ones continue to surface — for example, astronomers have raised their own concerns about reduced observation capabilities as a consequence of the growing number of satellites in low Earth orbit. Even tourist rocket launches have proven controversial due to the ways they may possibly hurt the environment.