Astronomers Overcome 'Aperture Envy'

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Science  07 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5476, pp. 32-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5476.32

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Many users of small telescopes are disturbed by the trend of shutting down smaller instruments in order to help fund bigger and bolder ground-based telescopes. Small telescopes can thrive in the shadow of giant new observatories, they say--but only if they are adapted to specialized projects. Telescopes with apertures of 2 meters or less have unique abilities to monitor broad swaths of the sky and stare at the same objects night after night, sometimes for years; various teams are turning small telescopes into robots, creating networks that span the globe and devoting them to survey projects that big telescopes don't have a prayer of tackling.