China's huge new reflecting telescope is watching the universe, and visitors are flocking to watch the spectacular telescope, high in the mountains of Guizhou Province. In its first year of operation it's had nearly a quarter-million visitors.
But don't expect to send home selfies with the half-kilometer diameter reflector, because visitors are required to leave cameras, phones, anything that can generate electro-magnetic activity, outside the telescope's 'quiet zone' to avoid interfering with weaker signals being received by the instrument. In fact, 9,000 people in nearby villages were relocated to create the zone.
Outside the zone, county officials have built facilities for visitors (limited to 2,000 a day in order to preserve signal clarity) including hotel, planetarium, shopping street and an IMax-style theatre.
Radio-astronomers around the world share data from the site, which has already identified a pulsar 1,351 light years away. Experts say, though, that there will probably never be a larger dish built: New technology calls for a "dish farm" that allows measuring differences in signal among dozens of smaller dishes clustered together, which will allow much higher resolution images.