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The Colossus of Europe

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Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 514
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_514

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With a 100-meter primary mirror, it would have been the big daddy of all telescopes, worthy of the label "Overwhelmingly Large" (OWL) bestowed by its architects at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Now, astronomers joke that the acronym means "Originally Was Larger." Even so, the scaled-down successor that ESO has committed to building—the European Extremely Large Telescope—would still outsize the U.S. entries in its class, the Thirty Meter Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope (see main text), by a fair margin, with a primary mirror 42 meters in diameter.