The test rig for DECam, which I saw when I visited Fermilab in May.

I had the privilege of visiting Fermilab in May, as part of my research for my book-in-progress. While I was there, I got to see the test rig for the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), which looks like something from Stargate or the wormhole entrance from Contact. Unfortunately for me, the camera itself had already been shipped to Chile, but yesterday DECam released its first images to the public. Here’s my story, written for Ars Technica:

DECam is mounted on the Victor M. Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, where dark energy was first observed in 1998. As the name indicates, it is a camera, albeit a far more sensitive one than is available to consumers. The business end of the camera is a set of 62 charged-coupled devices (CCDs), yielding images of 570 megapixels. [Read more….]

The Dark Energy Camera takes its first images