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The universe awaits

Giant Magellan Telescope Appoints Dr. William Burgett as Project Manager

Announcement Partners & Leadership
January 08, 2024

PASADENA, CA — January 8, 2024 — The Giant Magellan Telescope today announced the appointment of Dr. William Burgett as its new Project Manager to oversee the design, construction, and operation of the cutting-edge observatory. Having served as Interim Project Manager since February 2023 and Deputy Project Manager since 2015, Dr. Burgett officially takes the helm to advance the telescope into its next stage of construction.

“Dr. Burgett brings a wealth of experience in developing next generation research facilities for ground-based astronomy,” said Dr. Robert Shelton, President of the Giant Magellan Telescope. “We look forward to Dr. Burgett’s continued leadership as we progress with the construction of our 39-meter-tall telescope mount structure and continue to fabricate optical technologies that promise to deliver 200 times the power of today’s best telescopes.”

Dr. Burgett’s contributions have been instrumental in the progress of the Giant Magellan Telescope, serving as Interim Element Manager for critical subsystems in Optics and Optomechanics, Site, Enclosure, and Facilities, and Telescope Structures. Notably, he led the $135 million telescope mount procurement and managed the initial phases of the contract, the project’s largest procurement to date. Before joining the Giant Magellan Telescope, Dr. Burgett served as the Pan-STARRS Project Manager at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy from 2005 to 2014, one of the most successful NASA funded observatories, having identified more than half of the larger “near-Earth objects” in orbit.

“I am honored to be selected as the Project Manager for the Giant Magellan Telescope,” said Dr. Burgett. “As one of the new generations of Extremely Large Telescopes, our observatory will enable science that will forever change our understanding of the Universe. I am passionately committed to our success and feel privileged to be part of the outstanding team building the observatory.”


The Giant Magellan Telescope is the future of space exploration from Earth. Using seven of the world’s largest mirrors, the 25.4-meter telescope will produce the most detailed images ever taken of our Universe. It will uncover the cosmic mysteries of dark matter, investigate the origins of chemical elements, and verify signs of life on distant planets for the first time. The Giant Magellan Telescope is the work of the GMTO Corporation, an international consortium of thirteen research institutions representing six countries. The telescope is under construction in Chile and anticipated to be completed in the early 2030s.

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