News of the WeekAstronomy

Proposed Scope Takes Mirror Size to the Max

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Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1428
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1428a

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Astronomers met last week to try to persuade their colleagues that a mammoth ground-based telescope with a 30- to 50-meter mirror, costing up to $1 billion, is both feasible and scientifically justified. Depending on its size, such a "maximum-aperture telescope" could surpass the light-gathering power of the proposed half-billion-dollar Next Generation Space Telescope by 15- to 150-fold, thereby opening new vistas in the near-infrared part of the spectrum, where astronomers can best correct for atmospheric blurring. The meeting attendees plan to write a report for astronomy's decadal review committee, which will convene next year to set the field's priorities for 2000-10.