A United European Astronomy

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Science  23 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5819, pp. 1637
DOI: 10.1126/science.1141963


At a time when the political vision of Europe is struggling to regain focus and momentum, European astronomers are working together more than ever on new projects. Despite the fact that modern astronomy emerged from the European Renaissance, the continent's lead crumbled in the 20th century. At that time, visionary minds in the United States exploited large economic fortunes to construct great observatories that opened a new window onto the distant universe. Europe, recovering from the world wars, was unable to compete when the United States launched its overwhelmingly comprehensive space program in the 1950s and 1960s. But today, the American and European situations in astronomy are more balanced, and European astronomers look toward the future with renewed optimism, even though they are well aware that, given the cost of projects and the available funds, hard choices will have to be made.