Stellar accomplishments, like earning the Eagle Scout award, reap stellar rewards. Eagle Scout Tristan Bullard can attest to this, as he watched astronomers take one step closer to completing the Giant Magellan Telescope at Saturday’s rare mirror-firing event.
Alongside internationally known scientists and astronomers, Tristan — who was named Eagle Scout Astronomer earlier this year— looked on as liquid glass spun in a gigantic furnace reaching 1170 degrees Celsius at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in Tucson.
The new, 20-ton mirror is the third of seven mirrors needed to construct the Giant Magellan Telescope, a project that will allow astronomers to look into the cosmos with clarity and precision 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT mirror-firing is considered to be the most challenging optics ever undertaken with each mirror measuring 27 feet in diameter.
Tristan says the mirror firing was a once-in-a-lifetime event. And one that he experienced thanks to the National Eagle Scout Association.
Read more about how Tristan got the chance to attend the mirror-firing after the jump.
The 15-year-old Scout applied to the NESA Eagle Scout Astronomer contest earlier this year, writing, “My dad is an officer in the Air Force working for Air Force Space Command. Astronomy is something we do together, no matter where he is.” But for this junior-high student, gazing into the night sky isn’t just a way to connect with his dad. He plans to study astronomy or physics with the eventual goal of working at NASA.
As the official Eagle Scout Astronomer, Tristan joined NESA President Glenn Adams and NESA Director Bill Steele at the mirror-firing, where he also got the chance to rub elbows with the who’s who of astronomy.
Perhaps by the time the GMT is completed and installed at the Chilean Las Campanas Observatory in 2020, Bullard will be among the top astronomers using the giant telescope to examine far-reaching corners of the universe.
Interested in entering the search for the next Eagle Scout Astronomer? Keep your eye on the NESA Facebook page, where the group announces nationwide searches for the Eagle Scout Astronomer, Eagle Scout Argonaut and other opportunities for young Eagle Scouts.
Rendering courtesy of the Giant Magellan Telescope.