(VELINO) Roma, 10 Dec - The council of the European SouthernObservatory (ESO) has given the go ahead to the construction ofthe European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the largestoptical telescope in the world, with a 39-metre aperture. Itwill be built on Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Atacama Desert,20 kilometres from the VLT (Very Large Telescope) of EsosulCerro Paranal. The E-ELT, with its 978 square metres of mirror,will gather 15 times more light than the largest telescopescurrently in use and will provide images 15 times more accuratethan the Hubble Space Telescope. It will enable - according toexperts - extraordinary scientific discoveries in the field ofexoplanets, the birth of stars, nearby galaxies and the deepUniverse. The ESO is Europe's main intergovernmental astronomyorganisation and the most productive astronomical observatoryin the world. It is supported by 14 countries: Austria,Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain,Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Spain,Sweden and Switzerland. Italy joined in 1982 and now with theNational Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) is a major partnerof the organisation. It is taking part in the E-ELT projectwith a joint contribution from the Foreign Ministry and theMinistry of Education, University and Research (MIUR). Italy'sinvolvement in the ESO, accompanied by the major development ofnational plans, has contributed decisively to the growth ofastronomy in Italy, with the country achieving a position ofinternational prestige. Moreover, Italian companies havedistinguished themselves in acquiring industrial contracts andachieving significant financial and technological returns. vel.