KYOTO, Japan — An optical infrared telescope with the largest mirror in Asia – about 12.5 feet in diameter – will be built to search for planets beyond our solar system.

A team led by Kyoto University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan plans to start test observations using the new telescope, which will feature state-of-the-art equipment, in fiscal 2015. They are looking for a second solar system that could have planets like Earth.

The telescope will be built near the peak of Mount Chikurinji, a mountain that straddles Asakuchi and Yakage, both in Okayama Prefecture. This area, where NAOJ’s Okayama Astrophysical Observatory is also located, is blessed with a high percentage of clear days per year and stable atmospheric conditions.

Observations will be conducted with visible and infrared lights. The main mirror, which serves as the telescope’s eye by gathering celestial light, is about half the size of its counterpart in NAOJ’s Subaru Telescope, located on Hawaii Island.