What you are seeing are huge chunks of glass slowly being melted down to create a mirror for the Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham. It's going to be one of the biggest in the world.

According to National Geographic:

Three of today's largest telescopes-Gemini North, Subaru, and Keck-stand within hailing distance of one another atop the nearly 14,000-foot peak of Hawaii's Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano. The altitude puts them above 40 percent of Earth's atmosphere-and most of its water vapor, which is opaque to the infrared wavelengths the astronomers like to study-but also makes it difficult for the astronomers and engineers who work there to breathe and think. Many wear clear-plastic oxygen tubes in their nostrils as routinely as we might wear eyeglasses. Others rely on the body's ability to adapt but worry about making what they call a CLM, or "career-limiting mistake." "At altitude, we don't improvise; that would be a disaster," says Gemini astronomer Scott Fisher. "We're kind of trained monkeys up here. The real thinking goes on at sea level."

These amazing images trace one telescope's production, from glass chunks to completed mirror.

via National Geographic (thanks, Marilyn Terrell!)

Bricks of Glass That Will Melt Into the World's Most Powerful TelescopeS


Glass is spread over this vast mold, melted, and then slowly spun to create an even, parabolic surface.

Bricks of Glass That Will Melt Into the World's Most Powerful TelescopeS


These are the 10-pound chunks of the lightweight glass up close.

Bricks of Glass That Will Melt Into the World's Most Powerful TelescopeS


Now techs must polish the glass until they're read to give it a final coat of highly reflective aluminum.

Bricks of Glass That Will Melt Into the World's Most Powerful TelescopeS

The polished glass is used in the bodies of super-giant telescope arrays like this one, atop Mauna Kea.

Bricks of Glass That Will Melt Into the World's Most Powerful TelescopeS

The Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham. Images will appear to come from a 22.8-meter telescope. It can also be manipulated to point in any direction you like.