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HATSouth telescopes search for dim planets orbiting the stars in Chile’s Atacama desert sky. (Gáspár Bakos)

Pint-Size Sky Watchers

While monster telescopes get the attention, the little guys quietly — and cheaply — rack up cosmic finds.

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“If I can, I hope to hand over responsibility for ROTSE to someone else someday,” Akerlof says. “If it doesn’t work out, it’s like any other experiment—it did what it was supposed to do. So I wouldn’t be ashamed to turn the damned thing off once the job is done.”

Damond Benningfield is a freelance science writer and radio producer in Austin, Texas.

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