Astronomy: Opening Up the Southern Heavens

By accidents of nature and wealth, many of the most interesting stellar objects are inaccessible to the earth's most powerful optical telescopes. The objects are visible only from the Southern Hemisphere; the biggest telescopes, such as the massive 200-inch instrument atop California's Mount Palomar, are located in the Northern Hemisphere.

The resulting gap in astronomical research will soon be filled by ten U.S. universities, the European Southern Observatory agency and a joint British-Australian group, which have started building three 146-to 150-inch telescopes in southern latitudes this year. A U.S. telescope...

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